(a) It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this parental consent provision to further the important and compelling state interests of: (1) protecting minors against their own immaturity, (2) fostering the family structure and preserving it as a viable social unit, and (3) protecting the rights of parents to rear children who are members of their household.
(b) The Legislature finds as fact that: (1) immature minors often lack the ability to make fully informed choices that take account of both immediate and long-range consequences, (2) the medical, emotional, and psychological consequences of abortion are serious and can be lasting, particularly when the patient is immature, (3) the capacity to become pregnant and the capacity for mature judgment concerning the wisdom of an abortion are not necessarily related, (4) parents ordinarily possess information essential to a physician's exercise of his or her best medical judgment concerning the child, and (5) parents who are aware that their minor daughter has had an abortion may better insure that she receives adequate medical attention after her abortion. The Legislature further finds that parental consultation is usually desirable and in the best interests of the minor.
(c) The Legislature further finds that the United States Supreme Court has held under certain circumstances a minor may seek permission to have an abortion without her parent's consent by petitioning a court. The Legislature enacts a judicial by-pass procedure for the purposes of meeting the Constitutional standard and finds that in order to do substantial justice it is necessary that the Alabama courts be provided guidance in determining appropriate procedure and evidence.
(d) The Legislature further finds the public policy of the State of Alabama is to respect life and provide safeguards to protect life in the criminal, health, and other laws of the State of Alabama; that in respecting and protecting life, there is included the unborn life of a child whose life may be subject to termination before birth by abortion and that when the mother of the unborn life is a minor who seeks an abortion through the judicial by-pass procedure, it is the interest of the State of Alabama to not only establish and protect the rights of the minor mother, but also to protect the state’s public policy to protect unborn life; the protection of these interests is done, in part, by requiring judges to make determinations pursuant to the judicial by-pass procedure and to require judges be provided with sufficient evidence and information upon which they may make informed and proper decisions.
(e) Alabama judges are called upon to make decisions not only respecting the lives of born persons, such as in capital punishment cases, but also respecting the lives of unborn persons, such as in judicial by-pass cases for minor abortions; it is always the Legislature's intent to provide guidance to the Alabama courts on how life may be best protected.
(f) It is not the intent of the Legislature to place an undue burden on the minor's otherwise legal right to make a decision on whether to obtain an abortion of her unborn child; the Legislature's intent is to provide guidance and assistance to minors who find themselves in the unfortunate position of having to make such decisions and to courts who must act in the place of parents in providing an alternative by-pass mode for decision making.
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