Judicial Bypass Wiki

North Dakota’s abortion ban has been blocked by a court. Doctors are still able to provide abortion services in the state.

No matter their age, every person in North Dakota has the legal right to get an abortion. But the state restricts abortions in some ways.

In North Dakota, every person who wants or needs to have an abortion must:

  • Receive state-required information about abortion from the clinic
  • wait 24 hours after receiving that information before they can have the abortion

All abortions must be performed before 20 weeks, unless the pregnant person’s life or physical health is in danger.

All abortion providers give some counseling to make sure you understand the medical process. But in North Dakota, the law makes abortion providers offer you certain written materials about abortion that may be misleading or completely wrong. You don’t have to read them if you don’t want to, but if you do read them and have questions, you can connect with other young people who have had an abortion to hear about their experiences here. You can also learn more about abortion procedures and how people may feel afterward here and access free, confidential, phone-based counseling services here. You can also talk to staff at the clinic if you have questions.

North Dakota makes people under age 18 get written permission from both parents or a {{legal guardian}{A legal guardian has a court order stating that they have the legal authority and duty to care for a minor. This is different from a foster parent}} before getting an abortion. That written permission is called consent.

If you feel safe and want to involve a parent in your decision to have an abortion, one option is to talk to them about whether they will give you permission to get an abortion. In North Dakota, you need consent from both parents. If your parents are divorced, you only need consent from the parent who has custody over you.

In North Dakota, a doctor must also tell both of a young person’s parents or legal guardian that the young person is getting an abortion before the procedure. This is called parental notification or parental notice.

If your parents are divorced or separated, both of them may still be notified about the abortion even if you only live with one of your parents. But you only need to get consent from the parent who has custody over you.

If one of your parents is no longer living, only your surviving parent will be notified, and you only need to get consent from that parent.

If you cannot or do not want to tell your parents or guardian, or if they will not consent, you can go to court and ask a judge to allow you to get an abortion. This is called a judicial bypass.

If you are married or an {{emancipated minor}{An emancipated minor went through a legal process and has court order stating that they are freed from their parents and are legally an adult}}, you can get an abortion without consent from your parents or a judicial bypass. Your parents also will not be notified.

In North Dakota, only your parents or {{legal guardian}{A legal guardian has a court order stating that they have the legal authority and duty to care for a minor. This is different from a foster parent}} can consent to you having an abortion. Even if a supportive adult or foster parent supports your decision, they cannot give consent for you to have an abortion. This means that you will either need to ask your legal parents for their consent, or you can ask a supportive adult to help you get a judicial bypass.

If your parents or guardian give you permission, they must sign a paper saying that they give you permission to have an abortion. The clinic can tell you more about that process.

Not everyone can tell their parent about their decision to have an abortion. If you cannot or choose not to talk to your parent, there is another option called a judicial bypass. A judicial bypass means asking a judge to allow you to get an abortion without telling your parent.

You do not need a lawyer, but you can have a lawyer for free if you want one.

Your lawyer’s job is to represent you in court. That means they are there to help you ask for what you want. Even if the lawyer was given to you by the court, it is your lawyer’s job to help you ask the court for what you want.

It’s best to get started by contacting the Red River Women’s Clinic, they can walk you through the process and connect you with people at the court as needed.

 

  1. North Dakota is one of the states that has a dedicated group of advocates working to help young people who need a judicial bypass.

You can visit the website for the Red River Women’s Clinic here. The Red River Women’s Clinic is the only abortion clinic in North Dakota, and it provides free help to young people in the judicial bypass process. When you call the Clinic (701-298-9999), their staff will give you more information about judicial bypass and answer your questions.

  1. You also have the option to start the judicial bypass process on your own. You should be aware that North Dakota does not make several important forms available online. For that reason, it is best to contact the Red River Women’s Clinic to ask for help.
  2. If you choose to do the judicial bypass process by yourself, you will need to fill out a {{petition}{A petition is a form you fill in with information that tells the court what you are asking for}}. After you fill out the petition, you turn it in to the Director of Juvenile Services at the juvenile court in the county where you live. To find the juvenile court in your area, you can look here.

Once you turn in your petition, the judge has 48 hours (2 days) to schedule a {{hearing}{A hearing is a meeting with the judge}}  —not including weekends.

If you are assigned a lawyer, it is important to talk to your lawyer before the hearing. Your lawyer will have a lot of useful information and advice for you about talking to the judge.

If you run into any problems with the court, contact the Red River Women’s Clinic, they can help advocate for you.

At the {{hearing}{a hearing is a meeting with the judge}}, the judge will ask you questions. Since every judge is different, we cannot know exactly what a judge will ask you.

Judges can ask your age, whether you have had a job, if you have lived away from your parents, if you have traveled by yourself, if you have your own money and know what a budget is, and whether you have made other big decisions in your life. The judge might also ask what has happened since you found out you were pregnant, what you think will happen if you don’t have an abortion, and what you did to decide you wanted or needed an abortion. The judge might ask you why you want or need an abortion.

You can find a list of questions that a judge might ask here. A judge might also ask questions that are not listed here, but it is a good idea to start thinking about what your answers are to these questions so you are ready if the judge asks. Your lawyer can help you with this.

After the hearing, the judge makes a decision about whether you can have an abortion without telling your parent. If you do not go to court to talk to the judge at the time you are scheduled to be there, the judge could automatically decide that you cannot get an abortion without getting consent from your parent.

If you think you cannot make it to the hearing, but still want the judicial bypass, you can ask for a different time to talk to the judge. If you have a lawyer, ask your lawyer about changing the time. If you don’t have a lawyer, call the court and tell them you have a time to talk to the judge but need a {{continuance}{The person at the court who you speak with might call this a continuance}}.

After the {{hearing}{a hearing is a meeting with a judge}}, the judge will decide two main questions.

First, the judge decides if they think you are {{mature and well-informed}{The judge thinks you can make the decision to get an abortion without talking to your parent first}} enough to make this decision on your own.

Second, the judge decides if it’s in your {{best interest}{The judge thinks it would be better for you to have an abortion without involving your parents}} to have an abortion.

The judge usually makes a decision right away. But if they do not, they must make a decision soon enough after the hearing that they do not delay you from having the abortion.

If the judge decides that you are mature and well-informed enough to make your own decision or that it is in your best interest to have the abortion, you will get an {{order from the court}{An official paper that you give to the clinic to show them that you have a judicial bypass}} saying that you have permission to have the abortion.

Your parent will not be told if the judge decides that you are mature and well-informed enough to make your own decision. Your parent also will not be told if the judge decides that you are not mature and well-informed enough to make your own decision, but still thinks that having an abortion without telling your parent is in your best interest.

In other words, if the judge decides that you are mature and well-informed enough to make your own decision, or they think that having an abortion without telling your parents is in your best interest, you can get an abortion without your parent knowing.

The judge may also decide that you are mature enough to make your own decision, but thinks that you need more information on abortion to be “well-informed.” The judge can give you more information about abortion, but will not give you permission to have the abortion and will not tell your parents or guardian about the judicial bypass.

If the judge decides that you are not mature and well-informed enough to make your own decision, and also decides that it would be in your best interest to tell your parents about your plan to get an abortion, the court will tell your parents or guardian. If the judge tells your parents or guardian, your parents or guardian will then have to come to court with you so the judge can make a final decision about whether you can have an abortion.

Local advocates have confirmed that in the past 20+ years, no one has been denied a judicial bypass in North Dakota and no parents were told about a bypass or an abortion after the hearing.

In some cases, the court will tell your parent that you have tried to get a judicial bypass. Your parent will not be told about the first {{hearing}{a hearing is a meeting with the judge}} after you turn in your {{petition}{A petition is a form you fill in with information that tells the court what you are asking for}}. Talking to your lawyer or advocate from Juvenile Services about why you do not want your parent or guardian to be told about your judicial bypass can help them prepare you for the first hearing.

If the judge decides that you are not {{mature and well-informed}{The judge thinks you can make the decision to get an abortion without talking to your parent first}}  enough to make your own decision and thinks that it would be best for your parent to be told that you tried to get a judicial bypass, the judge will tell your parent.

If the judge does not think you are mature and well-informed enough to make your own decision, but does not think it would be in your {{best interest}{The judge thinks it would be better for you to have an abortion}} to tell your parent, the judge may just deny your judicial bypass request without telling your parent.

No, if you are granted a judicial bypass that means you can get an abortion if you want. It does not mean you are required to and you can always change your mind. The court {{order}{official paper to give to the clinic to show them that you have a judicial bypass}} just means you can make the decision about whether you want or need an abortion without involving your parent/guardian.

Local advocates have confirmed that in the past 20+ years, no one has been denied a judicial bypass in North Dakota and no parents were told about a bypass or an abortion after the hearing.

If the judge says you cannot get an abortion without your parent’s permission, you can {{appeal}{An appeal is what happens when you do not agree with the judge’s decision and want to try and challenge that decision in court}} the decision.

So even if the judge tells you no or says that your parent must be told that you plan to have an abortion, you can ask another court with different judges to make a different decision.

You should be aware that the form you need to fill out to appeal is not available online. If you had a lawyer for the {{hearing}{a hearing is a meeting with the judge}}, they can talk to you about the appeal and help you understand what you need to do next. If you did not have a lawyer for the hearing, you will need to ask the court to give you a lawyer for the appeal.

Once you fill out the form to appeal, the next court has 4 days to hold another hearing —not including weekends. The appeals judge will then have 24 hours (1 day) after the hearing to make a decision.

You do not have to pay any money to get a judicial bypass. You may be able to get help paying for your abortion. Your clinic may be able to help you cover the cost of your abortion through an abortion fund:

Red River Women’s Clinic

https://www.redriverwomensclinic.com/financial-assistance

701-298-9999

1-888-928-9009

There is only one abortion clinic in North Dakota, the Red River Women’s Clinic. You can consider going to an abortion clinic in another state that does not have any parental involvement laws. Check the map on the judicial bypass wiki homepage to learn more.

Red River Women’s Clinic

512 1st Avenue North

Fargo, ND 58102

*Red River also offers judicial bypass assistance for young people from South Dakota or Minnesota that want to get an abortion in North Dakota*

 

You can also use these directories to find an abortion clinic near you:

Planned Parenthood: Directory Here (make sure you select abortion in the services drop down menu) 

National Abortion Federation: Directory Here 

Abortion Care Network: Directory Here 

I Need An Abortion: Directory Here

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