What happens during a divorce when abuse is present? How do you safeguard yourself and those you love during those tough times? Divorce can be an incredibly difficult experience, and it gets even more complicated when abuse is involved. With the help of Susan and Tracy in this episode, you’ll learn how to safeguard yourself or your loved ones during these tough times. Knowing the signs of various forms of abuse could prove vital for protecting both yourself and those around you from further harm.
Abortion and the Law: Judicial Bypass (part 3)
Are minors able to have an abortion without parental consent? Yes! In this episode, we digest and dissect the process of judicial bypass. From its origins, to its lengthy and somewhat confusing process, the lady lawyers will talk about it in full with our guest Meg Mikolajczyk.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: On today’s podcast, We are continuing our abortion series and we have another guest with us, which we’re really excited about. And that’s Meg Mikolajczyk.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Hi, everyone, excited to be here.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yay, Meg. So specifically today we’re going to talk about judicial bypass, and that is the procedure when a young person wants to have an abortion without their parent’s consent. So we’re going to talk about how that came to be in Nebraska, what the procedure looks like and what it means for our clients. So Meg, tell us about you and like why? Why we wanted you here today. Like, what do you know about abortion?
Meg Mikolajczyk: What do I know about abortion? Well, again, thanks for having me. You know, I was the former deputy director at Planned Parenthood for a handful of years, like five and half six years as the lobbyist for them. So I’ve worked a lot on sexual and reproductive health care policy. In another another, had I where I’m the public health policy professor of Right Uno. So I work on these things a lot. And prior to coming into nonprofit public policy space, I was I was in private practice and I litigated on a variety of things. And you know that some of that included representing independent abortion providers. And so I’ve just been looking at some of this for a long time, and we had a judicial bypass case come through and I was in litigation. I had never heard of it. And then when I got to Planned Parenthood and realized how it actually impacts patients access to care, I got very interested in how judicial bypass works and parental consent and the needs that we have to make sure those are not barriers to access care.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So, you know, a little bit about
Meg Mikolajczyk: Abortion a little bit.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yes, Susan. That’s why we asked her to be here today.
Susan Reff: So I want to tell a story about how Tracy and I met my Meg, Mike, Mike, Meg Mikolajczyk. We got a we got information that you were putting on a continuing legal ED about judicial bypass, and we were like, Well, let’s go to this. And we drove to Lincoln and we went to the Planned Parenthood clinic and there were, first of all, it was really exciting. There was a room full of people there to learn about judicial bypass. And Meg was the presenter, and she told us all about what we’re going to talk about today because we we knew what it was, but we, as lawyers didn’t really know what it was. We knew what it was, is people.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I don’t think I had any idea what it was. And in fact, I think you said you’re going to come to the Kelly with me so we can ride to Lincoln together. And I was like, I don’t even know what are we learning about? Oh, that’s that’s my side of the story.
Susan Reff: And then Meg presented and I was like, Oh my gosh, who is this person? She’s so cool. She’s so great. She’s so well-spoken. She’s such a good advocate for this. This on this topic, and I’m really excited and I want to get to know her better and I want to be her when I grow up. And then we went to Sonic for ice cream afterwards. Do you remember that part with Meg?
Meg Mikolajczyk: No, no, no. I was not invited, wasn’t working.
Susan Reff: She was talking to everybody. We, we rewarded ourself after a Kelly. I think that
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I think I recall that you got like a cherry limeade.
Susan Reff: And I think I also got french fries.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah, every time Susan can get any like sugary thing, that’s what happened.
Susan Reff: Yeah, yeah, pretty much ice cream candy,
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Because sonic is right next door to the Lincoln Plan. It was like,
Susan Reff: Yeah, it was really
Meg Mikolajczyk: Close. Sure. Parking lot.
Susan Reff: Yeah, there you go. Yeah. So that was like how we got introduced to this. And you know, part of I think Meg and you correct me if I’m wrong. Part of doing the Kelly was to figure out lawyers who would be willing to maybe take some of these types of cases, too.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Yeah, I mean, just to share a little bit of what led up to that moment. We had a patient, you know, and I I’ll be really general, but we had a patient who needed to access the court system. And she was told Planned Parenthood will give you a lawyer. And that was news to me because we did not have a list that had been updated in a handful of years. And so this person was instructed by the courts to try to navigate it herself, which is very challenging. She had a guardian ad litem who, you know, was taking breaks on her lunch to try to help. We’re patching all of this together. She was successful in getting the care she needed, but it it identified a huge opportunity for us in the legal community. To do better for some of the people who are the most vulnerable and have the least access to the court system or how to navigate it
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right, the court system is confusing for adults.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Yeah, for lawyers, it can be confusing.
Susan Reff: And so even and some judges, let’s just be honest.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So yeah, when we were at the CLE, I remember you had really good forms and then you had like a list of good questions and we still pull those up every time we talk to a young person about what to expect in court. So that was a really great takeaway on this process and how we can help as lawyers. And that was probably like five years ago, six years ago.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Yeah, it might be time to do another one, you
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Know, let’s do it. And I think probably since then, our office has done twenty or twenty five judicial bypasses.
Susan Reff: I think we figured we did like what, six to eight to 10 a year, maybe. Yeah.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And we’re bad at math. So that’s I don’t know. Well, we
Susan Reff: Don’t really track them.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: That could be somewhere between 20 and a hundred. I don’t know.
Susan Reff: I feel like it was more than five years ago that because we’ve been in this office for three years,
Meg Mikolajczyk: I believe it was the summer of twenty sixteen.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Hmm. So in set is five six years.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Almost six years ago, five and
Susan Reff: Half years ago, it wasn’t the summer. Do you remember it was very hot? Yeah. So anyway,
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah, because you got your cherry limeade.
Susan Reff: Yeah. Well, we got in the car. It was really hot, and so ice cream was like, Yes, let’s do it.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So judicial bypass comes about in Nebraska because at some point and on our first two episodes of our abortion series, we talked about what happened in 2011. And there’s this onslaught starting in Nebraska of abortion restrictions and things like that in Nebraska was the first state to have an abortion ban, right?
Meg Mikolajczyk: If 20 week abortion ban? Yeah.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So then parental consent comes around, right? And so tell us about that like sort of the history of parental consent and what that means.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Yeah. So after Roe v. Wade was decided in nineteen seventy three, the Supreme Court then started grappling with different states trying to regulate around abortion. And there was a Massachusetts case that went up through the Supreme Court Belotti v. Baird in nineteen seventy nine that looked at whether or not states can restrict a minor’s access to abortion and whether or not states can say you need to get parental consent or give parental notice. And so that’s kind of where all of this starts, and the answer is yes. States can require minors to seek some sort of parental involvement, and there has to be a workaround because parents, for a variety of reasons, may not be able to or willing to give consent or be notified. So Nebraska for a long time had just they were a notice state. So you have to attempt to tell your parents this is happening or seek an abortion, you know, through other means. In 2011, when, as you mentioned, there was sort of this onslaught, Nebraska was racing to be the leader of banning or restricting abortion access. One bill that was brought forward will be six ninety by Senator Lydia Brash from She’s Up in L.D.
Meg Mikolajczyk: 16. I believe it was really trying her. She argued that we don’t know who these adults are in these in these young people’s lives, and we need the parents to give consent. But not only that, we need to make sure it’s their parents, and so we need to get written notarized consent from the parent and the minor. So this, you know, went through pretty quickly. The Legislature was way different a decade ago than it is now. There were some amendments, but ultimately she justified this consent and this notary piece, which is an additional burden. And when we think about a notary, first of all, we all know they have no confidentiality requirement. So that creates a barrier because you’re inserting a third party who in small towns, maybe your neighbor who might tell your aunt or who knows what’s going to happen. There’s there’s also barriers, because to get something notarized, you need to have a state issued ID. And so if you’re undocumented or your parents are, that may be a complete barrier to access, especially in the climate we live in to where immigration rights are kind of at the forefront of so all.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Although legislators at the time that this passed were like, Yeah, cool, that’s super easy to get things notarized. I show my driver’s license and I whip it out and my privilege self can get something notarized.
Meg Mikolajczyk: And of course, we want to make sure it’s their parents too, right? Except a notary does none of that. And it I don’t have the same last name as my biological children, and it proves nothing. It’s just a barrier that they weren’t thinking about.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Exactly, yeah. Or they were thinking about it and did it intentionally.
Meg Mikolajczyk: I mean, that might be true, too.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yes. So we have parental consent. So. Young person comes to an abortion clinic and wants to have an abortion, and so their parent can sign and consent and show their driver’s license, and that’s great, right? If that all
Meg Mikolajczyk: And the minor shows their license to write, they have to go get one too.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yes, yes. So that’s fine. But now when we talk about judicial bypass, we have the young person who is now pregnant and doesn’t want their parent involved and they or they, you know, they don’t want to get consent from their parents. So then judicial bypass is created, right? And so this process is the workaround for parental consent where a literal judge is bypassing the parent’s consent.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Correct? Yes. So you now have typically an older white male making a decision for a young, inexperienced, potentially with the court system or someone who has bad experiences with the court system. They’re making this decision together, and the young person may not have any support. As I recall, there’s some stuff in the statute around, like legal support, guardian ad litem or an attorney will be available, but it’s very unclear what that means. The county is supposed to pay for the attorneys. I don’t believe they do. So their access to the system, I think, is is just wrong. The challenges, if they even know that they have this opportunity, right, that’s assuming they know that they can access
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Abortion because young people are thinking about the words judicial bypass when they want an abortion.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Oh, finding that form online, I know, is ridiculous.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: At some point, like after judicial bypass No. Five or six, we were like, Damn it, we need to save the form because every time I try to look for it, I can’t find it. So we now save it.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Right. Well, and we don’t teach sex ed in schools, which is not a debate we should probably get into today because I’ll get too angry, but we don’t give people information. So they’re just left to their own devices to to
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Try to figure this out, right? So typically, what happens then at the beginning of a judicial bypass, the young person is told about this option, and the way it works in our office is what I think the experience we can talk about is we get a connection from Planned Parenthood. Then they tell us that they have a young person that wants to have a judicial bypass. So what we do is work with that young person and go through a lot of questions that we typically will ultimately ask them with the judge,
Susan Reff: Just like any other hearing. Sure, we prepare. We gather information from our client. We then prepare that client to testify by saying, Here’s the questions we’re going to ask you. Let’s walk through your answers. The judge themselves may jump in and ask some questions for clarification or more information. And then here’s what to expect when you’re in the hearing where we’re going to sit. Who’s going to be present? All of that, just like any other court case, because the more information people have, the better they feel also about going to court. So we talk about what to wear, where to meet us, all of that. And we that’s not any different than a divorce trial or a DUI case.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So we have to tell our clients what to wear.
Susan Reff: They often ask, So I mean, like, this is a judicial court process that is handled very similarly to other court processes in that decisions are made by judges. There’s a record kept of the hearing where there’s a court reporter in judicial bypass cases, though the judge will have us in their chambers. So it’s a closed courtroom and that is very different than any other proceeding in. In any court system, anybody can ask for a proceeding to be closed and the judge uses their discretion, whether it’s going to be closed or not, so.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So at the hearing, ultimately a judge is making a decision on a couple of different things, right? There’s three different options a judge can grant a judicial bypass in. The first is they can make a finding that the young person is sufficiently mature and well-informed.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Yeah, which is so funny because you think about what you have to prove to show your sufficiently mature and well informed. And I always make the joke. It’s like, you know, you are in charge of your own finances, and it’s like, I don’t know if I’d passed that standard, right? Right. You’ve had a job. You you know you are this responsible young person. And if you’re 13, you don’t have a job that you don’t even have access to that you don’t live on your own more likely than not. So the standard they put in place just is so divorced from the reality of these young people are in.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And I think oftentimes people say to me when I tell them, that’s one of the findings. So what you’re saying is if the judge is saying they’re not mature enough to make this decision, then they’re mature enough to have the baby right.
Meg Mikolajczyk: They’re mature enough to make decisions for another human being, right?
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah, but
Meg Mikolajczyk: Not, but not themselves themselves,
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right? So that’s one of the avenues the judge can take. A second one is that it’s just in their best interests to have to be able to make this decision without the consent of their parents. So it’s kind of a catch all. Obviously, we’re well, we go into the hearings and we are trying to prove all of the things and see if the judge one of them catches. And so best interest, sufficiently mature and well informed. And then the third one is that there’s evidence of abuse, right?
Meg Mikolajczyk: Which I also think is a really tough one, because how are you going to have to prove abuse if you haven’t alleged it, if it’s a family member, that could open up an entirely different scenario for this young person? They’re already in trauma. Maybe, you know, this could be a traumatic experience for them. And now you’re also asking them to allege abuse and have that conversation, like that’s just putting away too much burden on somebody
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right in front of a
Meg Mikolajczyk: Judge, in front of a judge. You don’t know using terms.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And you’ve just raised your right hand and sworn
Meg Mikolajczyk: To tell the truth. And depending on what county are you’re doing this in, someone may or may not even be receptive to you or the conversation you’re starting to have. Yes.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So the judge, you know, we’re typically having a conversation with our client in front of the judge and asking questions like Tell us about school, how are your grades? Do you have a job? What does that look like? What are your chores like at home? All you know is you sort of like responsibility things so that the judge might make the decision that this person is mature enough to make this decision. Mm hmm.
Susan Reff: And we also talk about. You know, have you thought about this like what what processes have you gone through to think about this? Because we also don’t want the judge thinking that this person is there’s any sort of coercion or anything like that happening to this person. And, you know, nobody wants that.
Meg Mikolajczyk: So right?
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I think the other thing that I always typically will go into with the young person in front of the judge is what are your plans after high school and how does that fit in or not fit in with having a baby? And I think that usually will help the judge kind of, you know, decide like, Oh, this future potential future for this child and, you know, lends credibility to their maturity level too, like thinking about the future.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Well, you said the word child, and that sparks for me one other piece of this which goes to your best interest point. They are children. Their bodies may not physiologically be ready to give birth. Or it could be an exceptionally challenging delivery because a 13 year old, 14 year old 15 year old. Their bodies cannot handle it in the same way in pregnancy, and delivery is a very extreme thing that your body would go through. I just had a baby like six months ago, and I can tell you
Susan Reff: The expert here.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Yeah, I can tell you, like, you really have to want to be pregnant to go through that and sort of put a 14 year old through that. And they maybe have never been to a gynecologist. They’ve never, I mean, probably more likely than not, they have not. They maybe don’t even know all the names of their body parts at this point. So to put them physically through this when they’re saying hold up, I don’t want to. That’s a best interest thing, too. And they are. Some of these people are middle schoolers. They are children.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So ultimately, at the hearing, the goal is to have the judge signed the court order, and that then is that bypass to the parental consent, they can take that then to the abortion clinic and use that in order to have the abortion.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Right, you have to have that order. Yes.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yes. I think I think it’s helpful to some describe some of the stories that we’ve heard because one of the things we talk about is what happens if the parents aren’t around or they don’t have parents or they’re just not in the country. So I remember one gal who was here from Guatemala and her parents weren’t here. And so I went in and I thought, Oh, this is going to be super easy. You know, we’re saying, Hey, Judge, she doesn’t even have parents in. And the judge really thought long and hard about like, what am I supposed to do with this? And we’re like, Sign the order, right? It’s clear. Yeah. And then the other one, too. I remember I called you and the young person was under a juvenile court case and I said, OK, have we done this yet? What’s going to happen? And ultimately, that information wasn’t even necessary to come out in the hearing. And so we, you know, talked about her parents and in general, and that one got granted, too. But also, we should remind everyone and this might jinx us. We’ve never lost a judicial
Meg Mikolajczyk: Bypass knock on some
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Wood, right? Yeah. Right? We have three pending right now that are going in next week, so that could change quickly. Yeah.
Susan Reff: And and and up until what was it like two months ago, I had never lost a protection order, either. And then. Well, that wasn’t really my case, but I did the hearing. That’s right. So right after 20 years of being a lawyer, yeah, finally lose a protection order case.
Meg Mikolajczyk: But there’s something kind of interesting, too, about judicial bypasses in that pregnancy conditions of pregnancy change every single day. And so just because you lose a filing one day doesn’t mean you couldn’t refile it under a different circumstances a few days later as well. That’s right, which is what has happened in the past. Right. So, you know, because pregnancy is this very unique thing and is very time sensitive, particularly in a state like Nebraska, where there’s also you have 20 weeks to get this taken care of. And if you want the medication abortion, you have 10 weeks and most people don’t even find out they’re pregnant, especially young people who are not planning to be pregnant. So time is of the essence, and I don’t remember I was going to say about that. Well, on that
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Note, though, another gal that just really stuck out in my mind and she had actually researched everything herself, and she filed the judicial bypass on her own at the courthouse. And they ended up we might be known as the abortion lawyers in town, which we’re OK with. So we got called and the judges wanted one of us to come help her with the hearing, and she was super mature. You know, just like had everything together wasn’t even going to be a question, but she was going to be 18 like twenty three weeks into her pregnancy. So just like that super small window that she could have just consented on her own. You know, but yet she had to have the judicial bypass.
Meg Mikolajczyk: So I think that’s an illustration of how arbitrary all of these restrictions are. Three weeks later, she can she suddenly magically able to make this decision? You know, I think about some of the experiences we’ve had. I’m based in Lincoln, so I know a little bit more about cases. I don’t know that you’ve necessarily always been involved in, but we’ve had some where the youth system involved and so probation snooping around. Very interested in what’s happening. We’ve needed transport before, and the state of Nebraska has said things like, you know, what are you going to? You want us to bring someone to your clinic in shackles to which I’d say, No, I don’t want you to bring a young person who’s pregnant in shackles anywhere. But so we’ve had some
Susan Reff: Challenges that ways, maybe in a juvenile detention
Meg Mikolajczyk: Center. That’s right. Yeah, yep. Yep. So it’s it’s interesting. And the thing I keep thinking about, too, with judicial bypass and proving sufficiently mature and well informed, like whose standard is that? Who is it that can prove these things and who can’t? And it feels very laced with white supremacy and very inaccessible for people of certain socioeconomic status. We know even if even if Roe falls right, wealthy people, white women, they’re going to get abortions. This is a barrier to people who have other barriers in place as well. It’s a system problem
Susan Reff: And the sufficiently in. Armed and, well, mature. Also, did I say it backwards?
Tracy Hightower-Henne: No, you combine them together. Oh, sufficiently mature and well-informed.
Susan Reff: It’s it’s like such a like a nothing thing like it also screams personal opinion from the judge instead of legal standard. Right? Judges are supposed to base their decisions on legal standards, not on personal opinions, but it’s not defined in the statute and we don’t have case law defining it. So it’s what what they think.
Meg Mikolajczyk: And it’s really hard to call a judge out when their opinion might be. Their personal opinion that becomes their opinion is ridiculous. And and I, you know, I shouldn’t say that I don’t have to practice in front of a lot of these people. So that’s great. But there have been instances that we know of where they’ve said things to the minor like, you know, you’re killing a life, right? And that shows up in a transcript while on appeal. But there’s nothing that that young person, they have no power to hold this person accountable. It often means an appeal, which means what they’re going to have an attorney do this for them. They risk the like, the option that they become publicly involved in this. They maybe just want to move on with their life. And so Judge has a lot of discretion in this instance in a way that they don’t in other court cases, right?
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I think the other thing that we hadn’t touched on yet is the fact that these hearings are required to be heard on an emergency basis and that, you know, at least when we file them in Douglas County, we are able to have the hearing right away. And when we talk about some of the smaller counties in Nebraska, where sometimes judges are traveling, they’re not there all the time. The young young person may have to wait. They may have to come back to the courthouse. And we’re thinking about also a miner who’s probably in school
Meg Mikolajczyk: Maybe doesn’t have a car.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right? So also those barriers and we really try to be efficient with the young people that we help. And, you know, let’s meet at the courthouse, try to get it done then. And sometimes we have to go back because the judge isn’t available, available and we try to do as much as we can where they’re not having to miss school. And then they have to kind of make up a reason that they’re missing school so their parent doesn’t know. I remember one time I took a young person and there was a huge death penalty case happening in the courthouse, and so there were cameras all over and it ended up being during a break. And so the cameras were like in the hallway and she was like, Am I going to be on the news? And so I was literally like shielding her and I was thinking, Well, it’s
Meg Mikolajczyk: Like her worst nightmare out, right? There is a case in Lincoln where an attorney took the miner with them, and they’re going to go do it, and her mother was at the courthouse that day, all of a sudden, unbeknownst. So they were, you know, kind of dancing around the hallways. But you know, you said the smaller counties, which, you know, that is a huge question I have is what if you live out in Valentine, Nebraska, and you know, how are you going to get to the courthouse, whatever? But Lancaster is the same way. One of the reasons I also was like, We’ve got to train. Some attorneys here was when I had we had a patient who needed help, and I’m trying to figure out how to help her, but also not be her legal counsel. She filed and I had the statute in front of me and can, you know, read? I said it shows that this is supposed to take precedent over every other thing that’s I don’t know the exact language, but it’s very clear this is an emergency hearing that should happen immediately. And they said, come back on Monday and it was like Thursday afternoon.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So no.
Meg Mikolajczyk: And what do you do? How do you hold them accountable for that? Yeah, you can’t. So she came back Monday, right?
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah. So I think all in all, you know, this judicial bypass procedure, the process is very important, also really helpful to have attorneys know about it and can help because no minor child person should be going to the courthouse on their own and trying to navigate this. But also, you know, I think it’s really important that people understand like these nuances of the hoops you literally have to jump through to to, you know, have an abortion.
Meg Mikolajczyk: There’s one other thing that feels timely to mention, which is there is some confusion in our statute around what happens to people who aren’t minors, but who have a guardianship and or conservatorship in place. I’m just thinking about the whole recent Britney Spears case. There is a question about how how that person, 20 years old, 30 years old, seeks an abortion if they have a guardian and Burke. Are a handful of years, Senator Burkhart, a handful of years ago brought a bill to try to like at least clean up what the process is for those folks because they are scooped in here, but they’re not a minor and so they wouldn’t access juvenile court and would they go to probate? What is the process? And I think we don’t think about folks with disabilities or folks who’ve been denied legal capacity in this space, but it’s
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Something to watch
Susan Reff: And the statute does, say parent or legal guardian, right? But sometimes there’s people that kind of fall in between that.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I think the judicial bypass statute specifically talks about minors.
Susan Reff: So, right, but the consent is parent or legal guardian.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Right. And people who have a guardianship or conservatorship can’t give medical consent, so they still would have to go through this process, right? But then I think, Susan, I’m thinking about people too who are in foster care. Their parents have lost custody, the states involved, and that gets very confusing.
Susan Reff: Yeah. And we talked about this on another podcast about how those young people who are foster children were receiving their COVID vaccines. And there’s there’s this respect of parental rights in juvenile court as a constitutional right that says even though your child may not live with you and be in your physical custody, you have the medical decision making power still over your children. And so oftentimes in juvenile court, you know, kids need things done. And you know, the parents are reached out to and said, you know, your child needs their tonsils removed. They have a mole needs to come, you know, things like that and the parents consent. And there’s so then with these with COVID, they were running into situations where parents either wouldn’t consent. Sometimes in juvenile court. Parents can’t be contacted. They are, they don’t want to be found. So in those cases, they were going to the judge through their guardian ad litem and asking the court to consent. And it’s like, this is a medical decision, just like abortion. And you know, we’re putting young people in really tough spots, I think by making this a barrier. And and I think in juvenile court, there’s there’s that added layer. So, yeah, are they going to then go to their guardian ad litem and say, I’m pregnant, I want an abortion? Help me. What do I need to do? I don’t know. I don’t know if they’re going to do that well.
Meg Mikolajczyk: And if their guardian ad litem is legal aid, for example, legal aid can’t do anything with abortion based on their funding. So now you’ve also got these barriers of like, what’s there, federal funding because we have federal gags on how budget, you know, how the budget is decided and how money comes in, which may or may not have been the case on that. On that one case, I mentioned where the guardian ad litem was clocking out at lunch to help.
Susan Reff: Well, and there can be, you know, there’s private guardian ad litem to and but like that, that person is even further. You know, more barriers are put up for that person than someone else who’s a minor that isn’t in the system.
Meg Mikolajczyk: And if that guardian ad litem personal values don’t align, what do they do? How does that minor deal with that? And in the case of someone who’s an adult also who maybe needs a judicial bypass because they are not allowed or, you know, some sort of judicial decision, there’s a lot of guardianship agencies that are faith based or it’s just people who have never even dreamed of having to make this decision for somebody in are not equipped to do it. So I think there’s a lot of challenges there, too. You’ve got a lot of third parties involved, right?
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right. Well, this has been excellent. I think the judicial bypass procedure is, you know, something that can be very confusing. And so hopefully this was helpful for our listeners to really understand the process. And thank you, Meg. So much for being here.
Meg Mikolajczyk: Thank you so much. Yeah, thanks. I could have talked for hours on this. I’m feeling, well, you
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Can come back.
Meg Mikolajczyk: I think hopefully it inspires folks to maybe talk to some people who could make changes because the statute could use some changes to, you know, yes, we should make it easier for young people. Not harder. That’s right.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: All right. Let’s go do good things.
Susan Reff: Thank you both. Take care Megs, y’all.
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