Judicial Bypass Wiki

The only clinic in the state might not be providing abortion services in West Virginia at this time as the state’s ban on abortion is being challenged in court.

No matter their age, every person in West Virginia has the legal right to get an abortion. But the state restricts abortions in some ways. In West Virginia, every person who wants or needs to have an abortion must:

  • get counseling with a clinic
  • wait 24 hours after counseling before they can have the abortion

All abortions must be performed by around 22 weeks, unless the pregnant person’s life or health is in danger.

All abortion providers give some counseling to make sure you understand the medical process. But in West Virginia, the law makes abortion providers offer you certain written materials about abortion that may be misleading or completely wrong. You don’t have to take these materials or 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, how people may feel afterward, and learn about free, confidential, phone-based counseling services here. You can also talk to clinic staff if you have questions.

In West Virginia, a doctor must tell a young person’s parent 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}} that they are getting an abortion 48 hours before the procedure. This is called parental notification or parental notice. This only means that your parent or guardian  will know about the abortion. It does not mean you need their permission to get an abortion. The doctor only needs to notify one parent or guardian.

If you feel safe and want to involve a parent or guardian in your decision to have an abortion, you can talk to them about your decision to have an abortion and let them know to expect a notification letter from your doctor.

They can also come with you to your appointment at the clinic and sign forms in-person so the doctor does not need to send a letter. Or your parent/guardian can also write you a letter ahead of time so you can skip the notification process. Your clinic can tell you more about writing this type of letter. The letter will have to be {{notarized}{Notarized means that a document was certified as true by an official with a special license}}. This means the letter must be signed in front of a person with a special license called a notary public. To get the letter notarized, your parent will need one valid form of identification, like a state issued photo ID, a driver’s license, or a passport.

If you cannot or do not want to have notify a parent/guardian, you can go to court and ask a judge to allow you to get an abortion without it. This is called judicial waiver.  Even if another supportive adult or foster parent supports your decision, they cannot be the one to receive notification. But, you can ask a supportive adult to help you get a judicial waiver.

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 involving a parent or getting a judicial waiver.

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

This is a legal process that a lawyer can help you with. 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 the court for what you want.

The next section explains how to get a lawyer.

  1. If you want to get an abortion in West Virginia, there is one clinic providing abortion services and you can start by contacting them:

Women’s Health Center of West Virginia

(304) 344-9834

(800) 642-8670

 

The Women’s Health Center of West Virginia shares information about the state’s  parental notification requirements here. It is a clinic that also offers help to young people who need information about getting a judicial waiver. You can contact them at (304) 344-9834 or (800) 642-8670. They are also able to connect you with a lawyer.

You can also go to a clinic outside of the state you live in, visit the judicial bypass wiki page for that state to learn more.

  1. You also have the option to start the judicial waiver process on your own by going to any circuit court to fill out a form called a {{petition}{A petition is a form you fill in with information that tells the court what you are asking for}}. The process is free, and the court must assign you a free lawyer to help you if you ask for one. You have to file your petition in the circuit court of the county where you live or in the county where you will get the abortion. To find circuit courts in your area, you can look here.

The circuit courts will have example forms and instructions for you if you need them, but there is no official form, and you can write out your own petition letter to give to the court if you prefer. If you write your own petition letter, it needs to include the following information:

  1. Your age and what grade level you are in school
  2. The county and state where you live
  3. A short statement giving your reason or reasons for why you want a judicial waiver and do not want to or cannot involve your parent or {{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}}.

Once you or your lawyer turn in your {{petition}{A petition is a form you fill in with information that tells the court what you are asking for}} to the court, the judge has to schedule a {{hearing}{a hearing is a meeting with a judge}} and make a decision as soon as possible, usually by the end of the next day (not including weekends or holidays).

If you ask for 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 in the hearing.

At the hearing, your attorney and/or the judge will ask you questions. Since every judge is different, we cannot know exactly what a judge will ask you.

Judges can ask about your age, whether you have had a job, whether you have had babysitting or other childcare experience, what your plans are for your future, and whether you have made other big decisions in your life. The judge might ask what has happened since you found out you were pregnant, what you did or who you spoke with to decide you wanted or needed an abortion, and why you want or need an abortion. The judge may also ask about why you are not able to do parental notification for your 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 parental notification within 24 hours.

If you think you cannot make it to the hearing at the time that was originally scheduled, but still want the judicial waiver, 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 {{different time}{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 decides whether 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, or if it’s in your {{best interest}{The judge thinks it is better for you not to involve your parents}}. If the judge thinks either of these is true, they must approve the judicial waiver for you.

The judge must make a decision within 24 hours of the hearing (not including weekend or holidays). If the judge makes a decision and agrees that you can get an abortion without parental notification, you will get an {{order}{An official paper that you give to the clinic to show them that you have a judicial waiver}} from the court.

Having an order from the court means you can get an abortion in a clinic in West Virginia without involving your parent. You will need to give a copy of the court order to the clinic to show that you have permission from the court to get an abortion without telling your parent. To protect your privacy, your attorney can send a copy of the court order directly to the clinic for you.

No. The judicial waiver is confidential, which means that no one outside of the court will be told about it. When you ask the court for a judicial waiver, your parent or guardian will not be told about the {{hearing}{a hearing is a meeting with a judge}}.

No, if you are granted a judicial waiver 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 waiver}} just means you can make the decision about whether you want or need an abortion without involving your parent/guardian.

If the judge says you cannot get an abortion without telling your parent, 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, you can ask another court with different judges to make a different decision.

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.

You must fill out a form to appeal after the first court decided you could not get a judicial waiver. After you turn in your appeal form, the appeals court must make a decision as quickly as possible.

You may also choose to get an abortion in a state that does not have a parental involvement law, please go to the judicial bypass wiki page for that state because the laws there can be very different from West Virginia.

You do not have to pay any money to get a judicial waiver. You may be able to get help paying for your abortion. Ask your clinic if there is financial assistance available to help you cover the cost of your abortion; make sure that they know you have or are planning to get a judicial waiver.

You can also contact one of these abortion funds:

 

West Virginia FREE Choice Fund

304-342-9188

 

Holler Health Justice

1-833-465-5379

There is currently one clinic that offers abortion in West Virginia:

Women’s Health Center of West Virginia

510 W Washington Street

Charleston, WV 25302

http://whcwva.com

304-344-9834 or (800) 642-8670

 

Some clinics may have limited service or hours

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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