Being faced with an unwanted pregnancy can be difficult, no matter how old you are. Part of our job is to guide women through the tough realization that they have to make a big decision, for themselves, their futures and their families – not to make it for them. The most difficult phone calls to answer in these terms are the ones we receive from minors. These are the phone calls where we usually start from zero. These are the patients who are sometimes used to being told what to do, who suddenly find themselves having to make a big, adult decision. We often become the reference point for raising money, how to approach your guardians, how an abortion is performed, what steps to take if they wish to raise the child or put it up for adoption. Sometimes they call out of desperation. They know they don’t want a child, but they can’t tell their father or mother; they have no way of contacting their legal guardian; they’ll be kicked out of the house; they were already kicked out of their house and have nobody to sign the parental notification forms, and so on.
Though we do a lot of advocating and spend a lot of time on these special cases, sometimes it’s difficult to go the step further to helping them through the legal process of obtaining a judicial bypass, if they need one. This is why organizations like Jane’s Due Process are so important to making choice a reality for women.
What does Jane’s Due Process do?: Jane’s Due Process is free, legal representation for minors in Texas wishing to get judicial bypass for their abortion procedure.
(Wait, but what is a judicial bypass?: A judicial bypass is a legal procedure that essentially allows a judge to sign the parental notification paperwork instead of a parental guardian. This is done through a short court process, where the judge will ask you a few questions about your living situation, and determine if it qualifies you for a judicial bypass. Judicial bypass or parental notification are the only two ways for anybody under the age of 17 to obtain a safe, legal abortion procedure.)
How does the whole thing work?: You will be matched with an attorney who will guide you through the process, step by step, give you appropriate legal advice, as well as attend the court session with you. They understand that the court system is new to minors. Researching the option can be dangerous for some teenagers that are under strict surveillance at home. Jane’s Due Process exists to even the playing field for minors wishing to advocate for themselves, and obtain access to a legal court procedure that may otherwise be unattainable or intimidating for some minors, without assistance.
How do I get in touch with them?: You can read more about Jane’s Due Process by going to their website: (http://www.janesdueprocess.org/), or calling them at 1-866-www-jane
Their purpose is *not* to encourage minors to have an abortion, or to make a decision for teenagers. The purpose of Jane’s Due Process is to simply strengthen the voices that might otherwise be silenced. JDP is here to assure that not one woman – no matter her age – is forced to give birth to a child if she does not want to.
To all of the teens reading this: There are people out there who understand that being classified as a teenager should not strip you of the ability to responsibly shape your own future. Your own fate is always in your own hands – both Whole Woman’s Health and Jane’s Due Process are here to help ensure that.