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Alabama Senate approves abortion bill requiring guardian consent

[JURIST] The Alabama Senate [official website] on Thursday approved a bill [HB494, PDF] that requires a parent or guardian's approval before a minor can have abortion. Under the law, a minor wishing to get an abortion without parental consent must prove in court that she cannot consult her parents, and the court can appoint a guardian ad litem for the unborn child. Instances that would prevent a minor from being unable to consult her parents include abuse and incest. The bill would require the parent, with a certified birth certificate, to sign a statement under oath, notarized or attested by two witnesses. The bill will become effective after Governor Robert Bentley [official website] signs it into law.

Last month the Alabama House of Representatives [official website] passed [JURIST report] a bill [text HB 490] that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The measure passed by a vote of 73-29. Three other abortion bills were also passed by the House that week. The first increases the waiting period before an abortion can be performed to 48 hours from the current 24 hours. The second, HB 493 [text, PDF], calls for a minimum 48-hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed for woman who learns her fetus has a terminal condition that will result in death outside the womb. During that period the woman would be required to learn about prenatal hospice options, of which, according to Planned Parenthood Southeast [advocacy website], there are none in Alabama. The third was the minor abortion bill. Last April Alabama signed into law [JURIST report] a new bill requiring abortion clinics to have approval to admit patients to nearby hospitals. The Women's Health and Safety Act [text] requires abortion clinics to meet unprecedented medical standards that supporters argue will protect women from unsanitary conditions. Legal commentators argue [JURIST op-ed] that restrictive abortion laws may add significant costs and limit the number of hospitals willing to perform the procedure.

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