On May 27, 2010, the Ohio Senate voted 22 to 11 to pass S.B. 242, a bill to revise the process of judicial bypass under Ohio’s Parental Consent for Abortion statute.
Under federal court rulings, parental consent statutes must permit a minor girl to “bypass” the parental consent requirement by convincing a juvenile judge either: 1) that she is mature and well enough informed to decide whether to have an abortion; or 2) that the abortion is in her best interests.
S. B. 242, which is sponsored by Sen. Tim Grendell (R, Chesterland) and Sen. Karen Gillmor (R, Tiffin), addresses the fact that some judges are giving virtual “rubber-stamp” approval to these judicial bypass requests. In a 2008 Columbus Dispatch article on bypass hearings, one Franklin County judge indicated that she had never denied a bypass request and another judge stated that she had denied only one request. A 2003 Akron Beacon Journal survey found a bypass approval rate of either 86% or 92% (the latter when a county that lumped voluntary dismissals with denials was excluded).
S.B. 242 would require:
• that the girl must prove her case by “clear and convincing evidence”;
• that the judge ask about the girl’s understanding of the possible physical and emotional complications of abortion and what she would do if she experienced such complications; and
• that the judge ask about the extent that the girl has been “prepped” about how to answer questions and what testimony to give at the bypass hearing.
“We are pleased that the Ohio Senate has recognized that abortion can have serious life-changing effects on a young girl,” said Mike Gonidakis, Executive Director of Ohio Right to Life. “S.B. 242 would require that, before cutting a girl’s parents out of the abortion decision, a judge must make sure that the girl understands the possible negative effects of abortion. It would also require the judge to determine whether the girl’s testimony really reflected her maturity or the ‘coaching’ of others,” Gonidakis said.
The bill now goes to the Ohio House of Representatives.
Ohio Senators voting the pro-life position for S.B. 242 were: Steve Buehrer; John Carey; Gary Cates; Kevin Coughlin; Keith Faber; Bob Gibbs; Karen Gillmor; David Goodman; Tim Grendell; Bill Harris; Jim Hughes; Jon Husted; Shannon Jones; Tom Niehaus; Tom Patton; Tim Schaffer; Kirk Schuring; Bill Seitz; Jimmy Stewart; Mark Wagoner; Chris Widener; and Jason Wilson. (22)
Ohio Senators voting the pro-abortion position against S.B. 242 were: Capri Cafaro; Teresa Fedor; Eric Kearney; Dale Miller; Ray Miller; Sue Morano; Tom Sawyer; Joe Schiavoni; Shirley Smith; Fred Strahorn; and Nina Turner. (11)
Source: Ohio Right to Life, May 27, 2010.