A Louisiana judge on Thursday blocked a lawsuit filed to challenge a new state law that restricts minors’ access to abortion. The judge ruled that the pro-abortion group behind the lawsuit did not have standing to file the suit.
House Bill 357 passed earlier this year, and restricts how a minor can obtain legal permission from the courts to get an abortion with parental consent. According to Nola.com, under the 1979 Supreme Court case Bellotti v. Baird, if a minor fails to get permission from her parents to undergo an abortion, she can ask a judge for judicial bypass, essentially getting permission for the abortion from the judge rather than her parents or legal guardian. That judicial bypass in Louisiana was previously allowed to be requested in either the parish where they live or the parish where the abortion would occur.
Now, the new law requires that a minor seeking judicial bypass files the request in either the parish where they live or in a neighboring parish — which may not include the parishes where the state’s three remaining abortion businesses are located. The judicial bypass must have a hearing within four days and be decided within 48 hours of the hearing.
Pro-abortion group Lift Louisiana filed the lawsuit to challenge the law, but 19th District Court Judge Timothy Kelley ruled in favor of the state, which had argued that third parties such as Lift Louisiana do not have the standing to challenge the law in the first place since the law doesn’t affect them.
“Abortion is time sensitive,” Michelle Erenburg, co-founder and executive director of Lift Louisiana, said. “If a minor is in a parish that has a judge once a month, they won’t be able to follow those time sensitive guidelines.” She argued that waiting for the judicial bypass would increase the minor’s travel time.
“Before, a young person could go to court in a parish where the clinic was located and get the required counseling and wait 24 hours for the court order, then can go to the clinic the next day,” she said. “Now, minors have to travel back and forth from their home parish to where the abortion clinic is.”
Laws surrounding minors and abortion are put in place to protect young girls from sexual abuse and trafficking. If she is taken out of town to get a judicial bypass, she may have been taken there by an abuser without her parents’ knowledge. Parental consent laws alert parents to the potential abuse of their daughters, and that includes forced abortions.
Whether or not a third party can file a lawsuit to challenge a pro-life law is at the heart of many court cases involving abortion, as the ones who most frequently challenge these laws are pro-abortion groups that stand to benefit financially from a lack of abortion restrictions, such as Planned Parenthood.
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