FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2015
For media interviews, contact:
Tina Hester, (512) 450-4899
Susan Hays, (214) 557-4819
Governor Abbott Holds Celebratory Event for HB 3994 Targeting Abused and Neglected Teens
Today Governor Greg Abbott, along with other elected officials, will hold a ceremonial signing of the dangerous
new judicial bypass law, House Bill 3994. This omnibus bill dismantles current judicial bypass law and place
dozens of new restrictions on pregnant teenagers seeking court access for legal permission to consent to an
abortion. Abbott already signed the legislation on Friday, June 12, which will go into effect January 1, 2016.
“Governor Abbott’s actions are extremely disappointing and show he has no regard to the situations many young
women face. Judicial bypass is in place to protect vulnerable pregnant teens who cannot safely turn to a parent or
cannot find a parent,” says Tina Hester, executive director of Jane’s Due Process.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the judicial bypass process must be anonymous, expeditious, and
an effective opportunity for an abortion to be obtained. Pregnant minors may apply for a judicial bypass as an
alternative to involving a parent or legal guardian in her decision to have an abortion. Many of these teens turn to
the courts because their parents have died, abandoned them, been deported, or are incarcerated or drug-addicted.
The new law repeals enforcement of the deadline for a judge to rule on a bypass application, in effect allowing a
judge to stall a minor out until she can no longer obtain a legal abortion. “When a minor is not even given the
chance to explain her situation to a judge, or create a factual record on which to appeal, what is she supposed to
do?” Hester added.
“This legislation throws out a constitutional law that protected abused teens and replaced it with an
unconstitutional one that obstructs teens who are seeking help,” said Susan Hays, Jane’s Due Process legal
director. “If abused teens cannot get help, more harm will come to them.”
HB 3994 requires minors to file in their home county if its population is more than 10,000 (which includes 169
counties, including almost every county in East Texas). The only exception is if the minor’s parent is a judge in her
county. “How heartless for there to be no exception for a rape victim fearful of seeing her rapist at the
courthouse.” Hays added.
The new law also requires minors to provide the judge her home address and phone number, potentially
jeopardizing her confidentiality.
To make matters worse, many courthouses are unwilling to assist minors in applying for bypass. A recent survey
by Jane’s Due Process found that 81% of the counties contacted did not have immediate knowledge of the judicial
bypass process and 37% of the counties denied entirely a teenager’s ability to file for a bypass. In counties of less
than 50,000, that refusal rate was 58%. “When courthouse doors are slammed in these girls’ faces, Jane’s Due
Process will be there to help,” Hester promised.