Following the Supreme Court’s historic ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched a website to direct Americans to abortion and contraceptive services, including for minors.
The HHS’ website, ReproductiveRights.gov, gives visitors insight on surgical and medication abortions. Now that the issue of abortion was returned to the states, the laws pertaining to abortion vary depending on where a woman seeking an abortion lives.
“Following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, access to abortion will depend on the state you live in even more than before,” the government website states. It then dives into the different types of abortion and how to obtain each kind.
“Medication abortion has been approved by the FDA since 2000 as a safe and effective option. Federal regulation permits medication abortion to be dispensed by telehealth and sent by mail via certified prescribers and pharmacies, in addition to in-person dispensing in clinics, medical offices, and hospitals,” the website states, and directs visitors to utilize the website AbortionFinder.org.
AbortionFinder.org helps women, including those 15 and younger, locate an abortion provider close to where they live. In addition, it helps women determine if they should obtain abortion pills via “telehealth,” meaning the patient does not meet with a doctor in-person to obtain or administer the pills.
For women under age 18, AbortionFinder.org directs them to a seperate website to obtain a judicial bypass to get an abortion “if you need to avoid involving a parent or guardian.”
The website, Repro Legal Helpline, contains resources for minors to obtain an abortion without the involvement of a parent. It claims there are 37 states that require by law to involve a parent in the decision to get an abortion.
“If you are under age 18 and want to get an abortion, but you cannot or do not want to tell your parents, contact the Repro Legal Helpline. We can help,” the front page of the website reads.
“There are other options if you can’t or don’t want to involve your parents, or if your parents refuse to support your decision,” the page continues. “You can get an order from a judge that lets you get an abortion without telling your parents. This process is called judicial bypass. You can contact our Repro Legal Helpline for information about the judicial bypass process and for referrals to state based groups that help with judicial bypass, or to get support from our attorneys and advocates. The helpline is a free resource and our advocates keep what you share with us private.”
The webpage contains a “quick exit” button that immediately redirects the website to an unrelated webpage, presumably so a minor can avoid getting caught browsing the site.
The website includes a “Judicial Bypass Wiki” page, with the same “quick exit” function, that allows visitors to hover over their state on a map and see what laws, if any, would prevent a minor from getting an abortion. California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Alaska, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine are listed as having “no parental involvement laws.”
Repro Legal Helpline boasts on its website that minors “do not need a lawyer to get a judicial bypass,” but that they can provide you with one if you ask. In addition, it directs women to get their abortion funded by the National Network of Abortion Funds.
I covered in February how a Florida teenager won an appeal to obtain an abortion without parental consent. “Jane Doe” knew her parents would not consent to her getting an abortion and she petitioned for a judicial bypass to access information regarding a medication abortion pill and the ability to have the pill administered if she chooses to do so.
This week, NPR's Rosemary Westwood noted that abortion clinic Jackon Women’s Health Organization, the Mississippi clinic at the center of the case that struck down Roe, would have to shut down soon once a state trigger law goes into effect.
The clinic owner, Diane Derzis, reportedly plans to open a new clinic in New Mexico called "Pink House West" to help women obtain abortions. The nickname "pink house" comes from the fact that Jackson Women's Health is painted bubblegum pink. Compared to most other states, New Mexico has less restrictions on abortion, including abortions for minors.