Judicial Bypass in Florida: Testing the Pro-Choice Compromise
click here for the report
This project was done as part of the WS 331 Advanced Gender and the Law class to test the true accessibility of the judicial bypass law for minors seeking an abortion in the state of Florida. A judicial bypass provision allows a minor to bypass a state requirement to obtain consent or to notify her parents before an abortion procedure. After the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade legalized abortion for women in all states, many states responded by creating a parental consent requirement for minors seeking abortions. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, states are entitled to a parental consent or notification requirement, but they must provide an alternative procedure, such as a judicial bypass. In order to obtain a judicial bypass, a minor must go before a judge and prove she is competent, responsible, and knowledgeable enough to make this important decision herself. Although these rights were strategically crafted to protect minors’ constitutional rights, previous studies have proven it to be virtually inaccessible in many cases, defeating the purpose of the law.
The study was modeled after Helena Silverstein’s initial experiment to test the accessibility of the judicial bypass law to minors in the Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Alabama courts (2007). Other studies have tested laws in Missouri (Choudhury 2009), Michigan (Allen et al. 2010) and Texas (Cheaney and Smith 2006) and have all found that there is a serious lack of knowledge within the court systems about the judicial bypass.