Alabama state law says minors must get permission from their parents to have an abortion (§ 26-21-1 et seq., Ala. Code 1975).
The statute does, however, say that minors can obtain waivers from the court that allow them to have abortions without parental consent under two broad and subjective exceptions. The exceptions under which waivers are granted are:
- 1. The court rules that the minor is “mature enough” and “well-informed enough” to have an abortion without her parents
2. The court rules that the abortion is in the minor’s best interest
On August 16th, a minor in Alabama asked a juvenile court judge for such a waiver. The judge didn’t explicitly deny her request but did rule that while the minor was mature enough (meeting the first condition), the abortion was not in her best interest (condition 2). For this reason, the ruling was interpreted as a “no”, so the minor’s attorneys promptly appealed.
Yesterday, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals overruled the lower court’s decision, stating that the minor must only meet one of the conditions for a waiver to be granted, not both. In other words, because the juvenile court judge ruled that the minor met the first condition, the appellate court granted her the right to have the abortion without the consent of her parents.
In its opinion, the court of appeals reiterated the basis of its decision, stating:
Our supreme court has held that “the petition for waiver of parental consent may be denied only if the court specifically finds both that (1) the minor is immature and not well enough informed to make the abortion decision on her own, and (2) that performance of the abortion would not be in her best interests.”