For most young women facing an unwanted pregnancy, parental involvement is an inevitable consequence that determines whether or not they will have an abortion. But for some young women in this situation, parental involvement can be dangerous, and sometimes can result in emotional and physical harm. Most states--37 to be exact--have laws that require parental notification prior to the procedure when the woman is under 18. However, the young woman can appear before a judge and obtain a judicial waiver to bypass the parental notification requirement so that she is able to have the abortion. The judicial bypass process is one that a growing number of states have made stricter and therefore more difficult for a young woman in this situation to obtain a waiver. In Illinois, the ACLU has set up the Judicial Bypass Coordination Project, which includes a hotline that links young women seeking abortions to attorneys that can help them obtain a judicial bypass.

Sometimes, lawyers can counter the system's failings. In the early 2000s, the ACLU won several cases that sharpened Florida's legal definition of maturity, resulting in fewer arbitrary rulings. In Illinois, the group is collaborating with the courts to make the process quicker and fairer. In Texas, Jane's Due Process has had several judges who never approved petitions removed from the rotation of those hearing cases.

Read more about parental notification laws from Mother Jones.
Learn more about the Illinois Judicial Bypass Coordination Project.

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