DISCLAIMER: This page is for informative purposes only. This page does not constitute legal advice. This page does not replace or intend to replicate strict adherence to local laws.
The Colorado Parental Notification Law, also cited and known as the “Colorado Parental Notification Act”, was passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2003 (§ 12-37.5). The law requires physicians or healthcare providers to notify a parent or guardian of a minor’s scheduled abortion procedure. There are exceptions to the notification rule, such as the formal emancipation of a teenager or the teenager has obtained a Judicial Bypass of the parental notification requirement.
If you are a minor seeking an abortion and you are sure that you cannot tell your parent or guardian about your pregnancy, you can petition for an order from a judge to allow you to have an abortion without notifying anyone. To find out more about the judicial bypass process, how to obtain an attorney to help you, and other questions you may have, please read our frequently asked questions, below.
Please read our frequently asked questions, below.
If a minor needs an attorney for a Judicial Bypass, where does she go?
Planned Parenthood of Rocky Mountains has a hotline to assist minors seeking information about the judicial bypass process in Colorado, as well as access to an attorney to aid them in the Judicial Bypass process. The hotline will serve minors whether they are seeking an abortion at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains or at another abortion provider in the state of Colorado.
The toll-free hotline number is: 1.866.277.2771.
How much does the attorney cost?
There is no fee for filing the petition with the court (§12-37.5-107(2)(e). The attorneys connected with minors seeking Judicial Bypass and assisting minors through the Judicial Bypass process perform their services at no charge, frequently referred to as pro bono.
How does the Judicial Bypass process work?
The process goes something like the following:
- A minor patient has decided they wish to seek a Judicial Bypass in order to obtain an abortion procedure. All her medical questions have been answered by a health care provider; if they has any remaining questions regarding the abortion procedure, she will direct those to a healthcare provider.
- The minor patient schedules an abortion procedure at a licensed healthcare facility. It is from this appointment date and time the remaining steps are influenced.
- The minor patient then calls the Judicial Bypass hotline (1.866.277.2771), speaks with the Judicial Bypass Manager, who conducts an intake over the phone. Then, the minor is connected with an attorney who will aid them with the Judicial Bypass process through the court.
- Once the minor patient has met with the attorney, the attorney will file a petition in court to request a bypass and schedule the bypass hearing.
- The hearing must be held in a location where there is privacy and limited access. This will most likely be in the judge's private chambers or in a closed courtroom.
- Each judge may have their own way of conducting a hearing. The judge will ask questions and the minor is encouraged to answer them as best she can.
- The minor's identity, the court record, and the court proceedings must be kept under seal and cannot be disclosed.
- More information or questions about the Judicial Bypass process may be answered by the attorney.
How long does the process take?
The court is obligated to schedule and hold a judicial bypass hearing as soon as practicable and not too long after the petition is filed. The hearing will occur no later than four (4) calendar days after the date of filing the petition. The court must also issue a decision within four (4) calendar days after the date of filing. More information can be found in section §12-37.5-107(2).
Preparation for the hearing with the attorney can take as long or as brief as necessary for the minor to feel prepared. This preparation session can be conducted over the telephone or in person.
The hearing at the courthouse in front of the judge may be 15 minutes to about 1 hour.
The greatest variable is travel time to and from the courthouse, which will depend on the location of the minor patient and where the petition for a Judicial Bypass was filed.
What is the purpose of the hearing?
The hearing’s purpose is to determine the minor patient’s sufficient maturity to decide on her own whether to have an abortion OR that giving notice per Colorado Parental Notification Act will not be in the best interest of the minor patient. That is what a minor patient and her attorney will convey to the judge and on which grounds the judge will issue a court order.
Put another way, if the judge finds the minor is sufficiently mature to decide whether to have an abortion, the court must waive the notification requirement. In waiving the requirement based on maturity, the court is authorizing the minor to make their own decision whether to have an abortion; the court does not actually consent to or order the abortion.
If the judge does not find that the minor is sufficiently mature to make the decision to have an abortion, the judge must then determine whether the parental notification requirement is or is not in the minor's best interest.
How will the court decide to grant a bypass?
As described in the previous question, the court can only grant the minor's petition if the judge determines that, by clear and convincing evidence, the minor is sufficiently mature to decide whether to have an abortion, or that, giving parental notice would not be in the minor's best interest.
How will the minor be notified of the Judicial Bypass decision?
The judge usually issues an order at the hearing or shortly thereafter. The attorney will be notified, as well. The attorney will forward the order to the minor patient and fax a copy of the order to the health center at which the minor patient will be seen for her abortion appointment. The minor must present this order to the health care provider before her procedure.
What if the court fails to issue a decision within four calendar days after the hearing?
If the court fails to issue a decision within four (4) calendar days after the petition is filed, then the petition is deemed granted and the minor can proceed with the abortion.
What if the bypass is not granted?
If the court denies the petition, the minor may appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains coordinates with a cadre of volunteer attorneys across Colorado who are trained to provide counsel to minors who have chosen the Judicial Bypass option.
If you are an attorney or know an attorney who would like to participate in representing a minor through the Judicial Bypass process, please contact us at 303.321.7526 or the toll-free Judicial Bypass hotline at 1.866.277.2771 and ask to speak with our Judicial Bypass Manager.
If you are a health care provider and you have a minor patient(s) who is interested in obtaining a Judicial Bypass, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains can help the minor through the Judicial Bypass process, regardless if the minor is seeking abortion care at a Planned Parenthood facility or at another licensed healthcare provider in the state of Colorado. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains’ Judicial Bypass services are free and private. If your patient would like to choose this option, refer them to call our toll-free hotline at 1.866.277.2771.