Right to Life

Ryan Poppe / TPR News

AUSTIN — Texas, like many other conservative states, has strived to make it difficult for women to have abortions. Recent state laws have forced dozens of clinics to close and left some regions without a place for women to go.

But Texas has one option that makes abortions relatively accessible, one that between 300 and 500 pregnant teenagers use every year. Instead of seeking parental consent to terminate a pregnancy, girls younger than 18 can ask a court for approval under legal conditions less stringent than in many other states.

About 20 percent of the abortions performed on minors in Texas in 2013 came through this court process, about double the proportion elsewhere.

Soon, though, the so-called “judicial bypass” may become less accommodating.

Conservatives are now targeting the teenage cases as part of their latest legislative assault on abortion. New bills introduced in the current session would make it harder for girls to prove they shouldn't have to seek parental permission and more difficult for courts to give approval.

Ryan Poppe / TPR News

The federal trial started today over the Texas abortion clinic restrictions that passed during this summer’s special session. Both sides have agreed to a bench trial, making the presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, the final decision maker. 

Lawyers from Planned Parenthood are trying to block the law from taking effect, saying portions of the law make access to abortion services for women in South and West Texas impossible.