By Catherine Shattuck

Image from Mother Jone’s

If you’ve come to this blog, chances are you’re under 18 and pregnant, or know someone who is. Either way, we’re here to walk you through the steps a pregnant minor has to take to get an abortion, without involving her parents, in the state of Texas.

In Texas, a pregnant teenager can legally get an abortion without parental notification or consent by obtaining what’s called a judicial bypass. A judicial bypass is an order from a judge that gives the abortion provider permission to perform the abortion on a minor without the notification or consent of her parents. The judicial bypass procedure is entirely confidential, and it’s free. No one will know your name or that you filed an application, and you won’t have to pay any fees.

On average, it takes three weeks to get a judicial bypass, and it’s important to complete the steps in the right order so you don’t slow down the process. It usually takes about one week to get an ultrasound and do the mandated counseling, one week to get the bypass, and one week while you wait for the abortion appointment. The sooner you begin tackling these steps, the sooner you can get the bypass.

Before you do anything else, please call us at 1-866-999-5263. A trained volunteer or case manager will walk you through the process and answer any questions you have. Here’s what we’ll discuss on the call.

(Note: this process may differ slightly if you live in a county with fewer than 10,000 residents, if you live more than 100 miles from the nearest abortion clinic, or if your closest abortion clinic is in another state. We’ll figure that out on the call.)

First you’ll need to (1) schedule an ultrasound (also called a sonogram) at a state licensed abortion clinic. According to state law, the doctor who performs your abortion must be the same doctor who did your ultrasound. Even if you find another clinic where you can get an ultrasound faster or cheaper, you’ll have to do it all over again if you don’t use the right clinic. At your ultrasound appointment, you’ll also complete counseling about your pregnancy options, discuss what kind of abortion procedure you’ll have, and receive some additional state-mandated information. It’s a good idea to schedule your abortion when you call for the ultrasound since appointments fill up quickly. Aim to schedule it for about a week after your ultrasound to give you time to get the bypass. You can always reschedule or cancel.

Next (2) talk to your JDP case manager after your ultrasound so we can assign an attorney to you, or explain how to file a bypass petition to get a court-appointed attorney, depending on the Texas county where you live. Remember, there are no attorney or court fees involved. Your lawyer will contact you to discuss your case and set up a time to go to court together. She/he will now file your application for judicial bypass, and set up a hearing within the next five business days.

After that (3) you and your lawyer will meet privately with the judge and you will need to prove to the judge that you meet at least one of the following two grounds in order to receive a judicial bypass for abortion:

  • You are mature enough to have an abortion without a parent or guardian being involved and you are well-informed of all of your pregnancy options, OR
  • It is not in your best interests for your parent or guardian to be notified of your pregnancy and/or your decision to have an abortion.

After you file the paperwork, the judge has five business days to hear your case and make a decision. If your application for judicial bypass is approved, you can go to the abortion clinic and have your abortion. If it is not approved, your lawyer will discuss your appeal options with you.

If it is approved, which is what happens most of the time, (4) take your approved judicial bypass application & affidavit to the abortion clinic on the day of your appointment and have the abortion.

Although the judicial bypass process will cost you nothing, you will have to pay for your ultrasound and abortion. If you need assistance paying for your abortion or getting transportation to/from the clinic, please check here for resources that can help. Your case manager will make sure you have enough funding, no matter your circumstances.

A few last reminders and tips:

  1. Pregnant minors who want an abortion in Texas can get one without parental consent if they have a judicial bypass.
  2. The first step is to call us at Jane’s Due Process 1-866-999-5263 so we can talk you through all the things you need to do.
  3. The next step is to schedule a sonogram at an approved clinic and schedule your abortion there for a week later with the same doctor. (You can reschedule it later if necessary.)
  4. Keep all your notes, the materials from the clinic, and anything your attorney gives you together in a safe place.
  5. The judicial bypass process is completely confidential. No one, not even the judge, will know your name. More details on confidentiality are here.
  6. Once you have your appointment with the judge scheduled, you can review questions she/he might ask you here. Your attorney will of course also help you prepare.

The process may seem daunting, but we are here to answer your questions and make it as easy as we can. You can call our hotline anytime, any day of the week, at 1-866-999-5263.