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Louisiana

Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion

Louisiana law restricts young women's access to abortion.

Is the law enforceable?  Yes, except for the provision requiring parental notice of the judicial-bypass proceeding, which a federal court held unconstitutional and unenforceable as a violation of the federal due-process clause and the Supreme Court's anonymity requirement in Bellotti v. BairdCauseway Med. Suite v. Ieyoub, 109 F.3d 1096 (5th Cir. 1997).

Who is considered a minor?  A young woman under the age of 18 who is not emancipated.

What is required - parental consent or parental notice?  Consent.

Who must provide consent?  One parent.

Are there other trusted adults who may provide consent instead?  No.

What is the process for obtaining consent?  A young woman may not obtain an abortion unless the attending physician secures written and notarized consent from one parent.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of rape or incest?  No.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of child abuse?  No.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman's health is threatened?  Yes, in the case of a "medical emergency."  A physician may provide an abortion if "the continuation of the pregnancy poses an immediate threat and grave risk to the life or permanent physical health of the pregnant woman."

May the parental mandate be waived under any other circumstances?  Yes, the young woman may try to obtain permission from a judge.

If a young woman must obtain permission from a judge, what is the process?  She must secure a court order finding, by clear and convincing evidence, either that she is mature and well informed enough to make her own decision or that an abortion is in her best interests.  Prior to the hearing, the court may require the minor to participate in a mental-health evaluation and counseling session.  An unconstitutional and unenforceable provision of the law requires that if the court finds that a minor is not mature and well informed and that notifying her parents is in her best interests, an order shall be issued to the minor's parents calling them to a hearing to advise and counsel the minor and aid the court in making its determination of whether an abortion is in the minor's best interests.

Are there other significant requirements under the law?  No.

Has a court considered the constitutionality of this law?  Yes.  A court held that the provision concerning parental notice of the bypass proceeding is unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction prohibiting its enforcement.  Causeway Med. Suite v. Ieyoub, 109 F.3d 1096 (5th Cir. 1997) (also holding that a previous provision permitting a court-ordered counseling and evaluation session for minors that did not provide for an expeditious resolution of the minors' bypass applications was unconstitutional), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 943 (1997).  A court has denied a motion to file a supplemental complaint and re-open this case.  Causeway Med. Suite v. Ieyoub, No. Civ. A. 95-2164 (E.D. La. Aug. 17, 1999).

Other information about the law: Another statute, declared unconstitutional and unenforceable, provides that a minor may not obtain an abortion until after her parents, or if married, her husband, have been advised of their right to refuse an abortion for the minor and have provided written consent acknowledging that a full explanation of the procedure has been given and is understood.  La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §40:1299.33(D) (Enacted 1973); Jackson v. Guste, No. 74-2425 (E.D. La. Feb. 20, 1976), aff'd in part and vacated in part on other grounds, 429 U.S. 399 (1977).

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 40:1299.35.5 (Enacted 1978; Last Amended 1997).

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