by: Irma Garcia, JDP Client Services Manager

My name is Irma and I fight for teens’ reproductive rights in Texas. As the Client Services Manager at Jane’s Due Process, and a native Texan, everyday I help young people exercise their bodily autonomy by obtaining abortion care through the judicial bypass process. A judicial bypass for abortion is an order from a judge that allows a minor to get an abortion without the notification or consent of their parent(s). 

I witness day in and day out the trauma and struggles that young people go through because of harmful anti-abortion laws like SB 8.

59% of folks who have had an abortion already are past college age, and only 4% are young people under the age of 18. Yet teens face intense judgement for simply taking control of their bodies and making a personal healthcare decision.

Parental involvement laws, like all abortion restrictions, are rooted in white supremacy. 80% of our clients identify as Black and Brown teens. Structural racism includes limited healthcare access for youth of color.

Clients have shared with me that being forced to go to court to consent to their own healthcare creates a layer of criminalization that directly harms Black and Brown youth in Texas. 60% of Texas teens who need a judicial bypass live in a county where there is no abortion clinic. This means that they must drive over 48 miles total to get the state mandated ultrasound and return to the clinic for their abortion appointment. This number does reflect the miles they have already driven to get to the courthouse or meet with their bypass attorney.

The pandemic exacerbated the barriers young people must go through to get an abortion in Texas–such as increased surveillance from parents or caregivers who monitor when teens left the house and tracked where they went by phone GPS.

A few quick stats are:

  • It takes on average 28 days to get an abortion through the judicial bypass process.
  • This average increased by 9 days because of the pandemic – meaning the process can take over a month!
  • Most young people find out they are pregnant at about 10 weeks gestation. The bypass process forces them to wait an approximate additional 4 weeks before they are able to access abortion care.

If a young person decides to continue their pregnancy, there are little to no housing options if they were to get kicked out from their home. And the young people who are forced to continue their pregnancy receive minimal social services from the state. Many are forced into unemployment to continue to receive medical coverage because if they work they will not be able to qualify for support services.

Black, Indigenous, and other people of color have complete or partial absence of rights under these systems. Reproductive oppression is a characteristic of the white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal system we live in.

If you are under 18, live in Texas, and want information about abortion access, call Jane’s Due Process at 866-999-5263.