- The Washington Times - Friday, October 7, 2022

A Missouri court clerk has asked the Supreme Court to review her case involving a minor who asked for a judicial bypass in order to get an abortion in light of the justices’ reversal on abortion rights.

The unidentified minor — who got the abortion in Illinois — sued the Missouri court clerk, Michelle Chapman, after she was unable to get the judicial bypass in 2021 without parental notification in Missouri.

A minor can obtain a judicial bypass to get an abortion without parental consent in some states. Thirty-six states have laws regarding judicial bypasses, but they vary widely on parents’ involvement and whether they must be notified.

Ms. Chapman, represented by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, said she was told by her supervising judge, Judge James M. Cooksey, that parents must be given notice under the state law for a judicial bypass hearing to weigh the best interests of the minor.

Judge Cooksey, though, told the lower courts he did not recall giving Ms. Chapman those instructions, delivering a blow to Ms. Chapman‘s defense.

As a result, the lower courts ruled against Ms. Chapman and rejected her claim of qualified immunity, a doctrine that shields government workers from civil lawsuits when acting in their official capacity.

But since the high court upended national abortion rights days after Ms. Chapman‘s case was decided by the federal appeals court, the state has requested the justices decide how their ruling could impact minors. 

Specifically, the state is asking whether a minor can get a judicial bypass without notice given to parents in light of the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Because the justices overruled national abortion rights in June — and Missouri later banned the procedure — the state argues there’s now “a threshold question of whether [the minor] could show that a right to a judicial bypass hearing to obtain an abortion even exists.”

The high court has asked for a response from the minor’s attorneys by Nov. 3.

It would take four justices to vote in favor of hearing Ms. Chapman’s appeal for the case to be heard.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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