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Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion

Texas law restricts young women's access to abortion.

Is the law enforceable?  Yes.

Who is considered a minor?  A young woman under the age of 18 who has never been married and has not had the disabilities of minority removed.

What is required - parental notice or parental consent?  Both notice and consent.

Who must have knowledge and provide consent?  One parent.

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

What is the process for providing notice and obtaining consent?  A young woman may not obtain an abortion until Texas' notice and consent requirements are fulfilled.

A young woman may not obtain an abortion until at least 48 hours after actual notice has been delivered, in person or by telephone, by the attending physician to one parent, unless the parent waives notice by an affidavit.  If actual notice is not possible after a reasonable effort, 48 hours constructive notice by certified mail must be given. If notice is delivered by certified mail, the 48-hour period begins to run at the time of mailing.

 In addition, in 2005, Texas enacted a law that requires a young woman to obtain the written consent of one parent prior to obtaining an abortion by providing licensure penalties for doctors who do not obtain parental consent or proof of judicial bypass. In September 2006, the Texas Medical Board adopted an administrative rule which requires the written consent of a parent to be notarized before abortion services may be provided to a minor.

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, but only if a medical emergency exists.  A medical emergency is defined as a medical condition that necessitates an immediate abortion to preserve the woman's life or to "avoid a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."

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 a preponderance of the evidence that:  (1) she is mature and sufficiently well informed to make her own decision; (2) parental notice is not in her best interests; or (3) parental notice may lead to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of the minor.

Are there other significant requirements under the law?  The Texas Department of Health must produce and distribute informational materials that explain minors' rights under this law, including the judicial-bypass procedure, and provide information relating to alternatives to abortion and health risks associated with abortion. Also, the parent's written consent must be notarized.

Has a court considered the constitutionality of this law?  No.

Other information about the law:  None.

Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§ 33.001, .004 to .08, .11 (Enacted 1999), .002, .003, (Enacted 1999; Last Amended 2001), .009, .010 (Enacted 1999; Last Amended 2007), 101.003(a) (Enacted 1995); Tex. Occ. Code Ann. § 164.052 (Enacted 1999; Last Amended 2005); 22 Tex. Admin. Code § 165.6 (2006).

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