How To Get An Abortion In Pennsylvania If You’re a Teen

If you are under 18, Pennsylvania requires you to get permission from one of your parents to have an abortion. Everyone’s situation is different: involving your parents or guardian may not be an option. If this applies to you, here at Allentown Women’s Center, we can offer to help initiate what is called a Judicial Bypass.

Here are some frequently asked questions about Judicial Bypass:

What is a Judicial Bypass?
If you are under 18 in Pennsylvania, you can meet privately with a judge who can give you permission for the abortion without telling your parents. This process is called “Judicial Bypass.”

Does it cost money for a Judicial Bypass?
No, you do not have to pay money for judicial bypass.

Do I need a lawyer?
No, but you have a better chance of getting judicial consent with a lawyer’s help. You will also avoid significant delays due to Covid-19 by working with a lawyer. Your lawyer will be free if you use one appointed by the court.

What happens at the hearing with the judge?
It is not a trial. The hearing is usually informal and short. It is absolutely confidential. No one is allowed to attend except you, your lawyer, the judge, and possibly the judge’s clerk. If you would like a staff member from our clinic to be with you as well, we can gladly request this if it makes you more comfortable.

What does the judge have to decide to grant my petition?
The judge is required to answer one question: is this young person mature enough to make their own decisions? If the answer is yes, the judge must give toy permission for the abortion regardless of how he or she feels about it. You must also tell the judge that you have been counseled by a medical provider about your options and the risks of abortion.

How long will it take a judge to decide?
The judge usually decides during the hearing, but at the latest the judge must decide within three business days after you file your application. If the judge does not decide within three business days, you have the right to a free, confidential, and speedy appeal to a higher court.

What can I do if a judge denies my petition?
We know of only very few cases out of thousands over the past 20+ years in which a Pennsylvania judge denied a bypass petition, and in all of those few cases the minor was ultimately able to end the pregnancy. If denied, your lawyer can file an immediate appeal with the state Superior Court, which must decide within five business days. If you do not have a lawyer we can reach out to some resources to help you out.

Is it legal for a minor to cross state lines to get an abortion?
Yes, but adults who are accompanying minors under 14 to out-of-state abortion providers should contact a lawyer to ensure they are not violating Pennsylvania’s interference with custody of a minor law.

Need legal information or assistance?
Call the Women’s Law Project at (412) 281-2892. We closely work with them when it comes to Judicial Bypass cases.

If interested please call our office at (484) 821-0821 and state that you are interested in a Judicial Bypass.
This information is not intended as legal advice or as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. Please consult a lawyer if you have any questions about your rights. (This guide is specific to Pennsylvania law and regulations. Mandatory parental involvement laws are different in other states. Start with calling a clinic that performs abortion if you are seeking abortion services outside of Pennsylvania.)

One in four people will terminate a pregnancy during their lifetime. You are not alone in your decision to have an abortion. We understand and we’re here to help with compassionate abortion care.
Payment for Allentown Women’s Center services can be made out-of-pocket or billed to your insurance company. We also offer limited financial assistance to patients who qualify.