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About the Judicial Bypass Process for Patients Under 18

Planned Parenthood will find you a lawyer who has special training and will support you through this process.

Call the Planned Parenthood Sexual Health Counseling and Referral Hotline at 1-800-258-4448, option 3 to speak with one of our trained counselors. The hotline is staffed from 9AM to 8PM Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and from 9AM to 6PM Wednesday and Friday.

Your lawyer will make your court appointment and represent you at no cost.

  • You will probably go to the Massachusetts Superior Court in the county where you live. You may go to the Superior Court of another county if you need to.
  • You can bring a friend or relative with you to court if you want.
  • You and your lawyer will meet with the judge in his or her office. The hearing is not a trial. There is no jury.
  • The judge will give his or her decision immediately.
  • Your parents will not be notified that you have been to court. Your court records are completely confidential.

What Happens in Court

  1. For someone who doesn’t speak English, the court will get a translator into any language.
  2. Plan to spend about two hours at the courthouse. You may have to wait if the judge is not available when you are ready to see him or her.
  3. At the courthouse, you will fill out a form (a petition) requesting that a judge find you mature enough to decide to have an abortion. Your lawyer will help you fill it out. You will not sign your name on this form. You will sign another form (an affidavit) with your real name. The affidavit will be kept separate, under lock and key.
  4. The clerk of the court will arrange for you to see the judge. The judge will ask you questions to determine whether you are 'mature," that is, able to make the decision to have an abortion without your parents’ help. Your lawyer or a Planned Parenthood counselor will help you prepare for the judge’s questions. Some questions a judge might ask are:
         - How did you make the decision to have an abortion?
         - What kind of relationship do you have with your parents?
         - Are you in school? If so, how are you doing in school?
         - What are your plans for the future?
  5. If the judge decides that you are “mature,” you will be able to obtain an abortion. If the judge decides that you are not “mature,” then he or she must decide if the abortion is in your “best interest,” which is a legal term and does not mean the judge is going to make you do what he or she personally thinks is best.
  6. If the abortion is approved, the judge issues a written order stating that you have court approval to obtain an abortion. You must bring this written order with you when you go to your abortion appointment. If you lose the form, you will have to go back to the clerk’s office to get another one. Even if you get the court order, you can still change your mind later and decide to continue your pregnancy.
  7. The judge will most likely decide that you are “mature” or that the abortion is in your best interest. If for some reason the judge does not give you approval, your lawyer can help you appeal if you want to, which means you get another hearing.

The trained counselors at Planned Parenthood can help you with this process. Call the Sexual Health Counseling and Referral Hotline at 1-800-258-4448, option 3.

Your Rights

  • You have the right to be treated with consideration and respect.
  • You have the right to a prompt hearing and a quick decision.
  • You have the right to be represented by a lawyer at no cost.
  • You have the right to go to court at no cost.
  • You have the right to confidentiality.
  • You have the right to answers to your questions.

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