In re Jane Doe, No. 00-0140

CourtSupreme Court of Texas
Writing for the CourtChief Justice Phillips delivered the opinion of the Court as to Parts I-VI and a concurring opinion as to Part VII, all of which Justice Gonzales joins. Justice Enoch, Justice Baker, Justice Hankinson, and Justice O'Neill join in Parts I, II, and IV-
Citation19 S.W.3d 249
Parties(Tex. 2000) In re Jane Doe
Docket NumberNo. 00-0140
Decision Date25 February 2000

Page 249

19 S.W.3d 249 (Tex. 2000)
In re Jane Doe
No. 00-0140
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF TEXAS
February 25, 2000

Court Issues First Parental-Notification `Bypass' Decision

Denial of abortion without parental notification remanded for further proceedings

FULL-TEXT OPINIONS FOLLOW SUMMARIES. NOTE: The summaries of opinions are prepared by the court's staff attorney for public information and reflect his judgment alone on facts and legal issues. Reference must be to the opinions themselves.

The issue in this appeal is whether a 17-year-old girl seeking a judicial bypass to the requirement that her parents be notified of a pending abortion demonstrated that she was -- as state law requires -- "sufficiently well informed to make the decision to have an abortion performed without notification to either of her parents." The trial court denied her application, based on the sufficiently well informed standard, and the court of appeals upheld that decision. The Supreme Court concludes the minor did not meet the standard, but remands the case for further proceedings "in the interest of justice."

REVERSED AND REMANDED, opinion by Chief Justice Phillips: The Court in this first case on the 1999 parental-notification law relies on decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and other states with similar notification statutes to set out three required showings by a minor seeking to bypass the parental-notification requirement (section VI, joined by Justices Enoch, Baker, Hankinson, O'Neill and Gonzales):

- First, she must show she obtained information from a health-care provider about the health risks associated with an abortion and that she understands those risks, including risks associated specifically with her particular stage of the pregnancy.

- Second, she must show she understands the alternatives to abortion and their implications and has given thoughtful consideration to those alternatives, but not be required to justify why she prefers abortion.

- Third, she must show awareness of the emotional and psychological aspects of undergoing an abortion, not necessarily from licensed counselors but from reliable and informed sources and not from any particular provider. She should not be required to meet with or review materials advocacy or religious groups provide.

Justice Hecht concurring in part and dissenting in part, joined by Justice Abbott: The Court holds that judges can authorize minors with minimal information to have abortions without telling their parents, even if the minors have no appreciation for the important family, social, moral, or religious issues involved. This trivializes the decision to have an abortion and deals a heavy blow to parents' fundamental and constitutional rights which the Legislature had every intention of protecting when it passed the Parental Notification Act in 1999.

Justice Enoch concurring, joined by Justices Baker, Hankinson and O'Neill: Rather than factual or legal sufficiency, the proper standard of review on appeal should be abuse of discretion. That is the standard required in reviewing comparable findings - for example, determining the best interests of a child under the Family Code.

Justice Owen concurring: The judgment of the Court is proper. But in construing "sufficiently well informed" in the parental-notification law, the Court should have relied on U.S. Supreme Court precedent to inform the Court's construction of the phrase and should have concluded that the Legislature intended that a minor be informed about the abortion decision to the full extent allowed under the federal court's guidance.

Page 250

OPINION

Chief Justice Phillips delivered the opinion of the Court as to Parts I-VI and a concurring opinion as to Part VII, all of which Justice Gonzales joins. Justice Enoch, Justice Baker, Justice Hankinson, and Justice O'Neill join in Parts I, II, and IV-VI of the Court's opinion and in the judgment. Justice Owen joins in Parts I, II, and III of the Court's opinion and in the judgment. Justice Hecht and Justice Abbott join in Parts II and III of the Court's opinion. Justice Enoch filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Baker, Justice Hankinson, and Justice O'Neill join. Justice Owen filed a concurring opinion, in which Chief Justice Phillips joined as to Parts I and III. Justice Hecht filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Abbott joins.

This is a confidential appeal from a court of appeals' decision affirming a trial court's

Page 251

denial of a minor's application for a court order authorizing her to consent to an abortion without notifying her parents. Our Court is called upon to determine what the Legislature intended in Texas's parental notification statute when it wrote that a court "shall enter an order" that a minor is "authorize[d] . . . to consent to the performance of [an] abortion" if she demonstrates "by a preponderance of the evidence [that she] is mature and sufficiently well informed to make the decision to have an abortion performed without notification to either of her parents. . . ." Tex. Fam. Code 33.003(i). We are not called upon to decide the constitutionality or wisdom of abortion. Arguments for or against abortion do not advance the issue of statutory construction presented by this case. Instead, our sole function in this case is to interpret and apply the statute enacted by our Legislature.

The trial court in this case concluded that although the minor "shows signs of being mature, she has not demonstrated that she is sufficiently well informed about the medical procedures and the emotional impact of the procedure." The court of appeals affirmed, and the minor has appealed to this Court. We conclude that in this case, the minor has not met the statutory standard. Because this Court has not previously provided guidance to trial and appellate courts about what a minor must show under section 33.003 of the Texas Family Code to demonstrate that she is mature and sufficiently well informed, we remand this case to the trial court in the interest of justice. In so doing, we direct that upon remand, the proceedings in the trial court must be concluded as if Doe's application had been filed the day after our opinion issues. See Tex. Fam. Code 33.003(h). In the event that the minor requires additional time after issuance of this opinion to prepare for a hearing, she may, of course, request an extensionof time. See id.

I

Jane Doe is a pregnant, unmarried minor. Her eighteenth birthday will occur within a few months. She lives at home with her parents, and she has not been emancipated. Pursuant to Family Code section 33.003, she sought an order from the trial court allowing her to consent to an abortion without having to notify either of her parents. See Tex. Fam. Code 33.003.

Jane Doe was represented by counsel of her choice, and as the Family Code requires, the trial court appointed a guardian ad litem. See id. 33.003(e). At the conclusion of a hearing, the trial court denied Jane Doe's application and issued written findings and conclusions in accordance with Texas Family Code section 33.003(h). Jane Doe appealed to the court of appeals, which affirmed the trial court's judgment without an opinion. She now appeals to this Court. See id. 33.004(f). She contends that she has conclusively established that she is mature and is sufficiently well informed to make a decision about terminating her pregnancy without notifying her parents. She also has presented a limited argument that the trial court erred in failing to conclude that notification would not be in her best interest. See id. 33.003(i). Because she did not present this latter issue to the court of appeals, we will not consider it.

Before we turn to the merits of the issues before us, however, there are two significant procedural matters that we must resolve. The first is whether the Family Code prohibits us from releasing our opinions to the public in these types of matters. The second is what standard of appellate review applies in cases arising under sections 33.003 and 33.004 of the Family Code.

II

Family Code sections 33.003 and 33.004 contain many provisions designed to ensure the minor's anonymity and the confidentiality of the judicial bypass proceeding.

Page 252

Among these are provisions that, in effect, direct the trial court and the court of appeals not to publicly disseminate their rulings. See Tex. Fam. Code 33.003(k),(l); 33.004(c).

Family Code section 33.003 directs that a minor's application to the trial court, all other documents pertaining to the proceedings, and the trial court's ruling are confidential and privileged. See Tex. Fam. Code 33.003(k), (l). The statute is explicit about those who may receive notice of the trial court's ruling:

(l) An order of the court issued under this section is confidential and privileged and is not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, or discovery, subpoena, or other legal process. The order may not be released to any person but the pregnant minor, the pregnant minor's guardian ad litem, the pregnant minor's attorney, another person designated to receive the order by the minor, or a governmental agency or attorney in a criminal or administrative action seeking to assert or protect the interest of the minor.

Tex. Fam. Code 33.003(l).

Similarly, Family Code section 33.004(c) prohibits the court of appeals from publishing its ruling:

(c) A ruling of the court of appeals issued under this section is confidential and privileged and is not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, or discovery, subpoena, or other legal process. The ruling may not be released to any person but the pregnant minor, the pregnant minor's guardian ad litem, the pregnant minor's attorney, another person designated to receive the ruling by the minor, or a governmental agency or attorney in a criminal or administrative action seeking to assert or protect the interest of the minor.

Tex. Fam. Code...

To continue reading

Request your trial
142 practice notes
  • In Re: Jane Doe 2, No. 00-0191
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • March 7, 2000
    ...however, the record reveals no such conflict. 3. TEX. CONST., art. II, 1. 4. TEX. CONST., art. I, 13. 5. TEX. CONST., art. I, 19. 6. 19 S.W.3d 249, (Tex. 2000). 7. Id. at 8. Id. at 256. 9. Id. at 256. 10. Id. at 257. 11. TEX. FAM. CODE 33.003(i). 12. See Doe 1, 19 S.W.3d at 253; General Tir......
  • In re Jane Doe, No. 00-0224
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • June 22, 2000
    ...for a court order authorizing her to consent to an abortion without notifying a parent. After remand from this Court, see In re Jane Doe, 19 S.W.3d 249 (Tex. 2000) ("Doe 1(I)"), the trial court conducted another hearing and found that Jane Doe failed to prove by a preponderance of the evide......
  • Ex parte Anonymous
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • June 1, 2001
    ...not to obtain parental consent. The Supreme Court of Texas recently grappled with this troublesome area of the law. See In re Jane Doe, 19 S.W.3d 249 (Tex.2000) ("Doe I"). In Doe I, that court announced criteria to aid the trial court in making determinations as to maturity and the knowledg......
  • Ex parte An Anonymousfs Minor, 1001488
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • June 1, 2001
    ...not to obtain parental consent. The Supreme Court of Texas recently grappled with this troublesome area of the law. See In re Jane Doe, 19 S.W.3d 249 (Tex. 2000) ("Doe I"). In Doe I, that court announced criteria to aid the trial court in making determinations as to maturity and the knowled......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
144 cases
  • In Re: Jane Doe 2, No. 00-0191
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • March 7, 2000
    ...however, the record reveals no such conflict. 3. TEX. CONST., art. II, 1. 4. TEX. CONST., art. I, 13. 5. TEX. CONST., art. I, 19. 6. 19 S.W.3d 249, (Tex. 2000). 7. Id. at 8. Id. at 256. 9. Id. at 256. 10. Id. at 257. 11. TEX. FAM. CODE 33.003(i). 12. See Doe 1, 19 S.W.3d at 253; General Tir......
  • In re Jane Doe, No. 00-0224
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • June 22, 2000
    ...for a court order authorizing her to consent to an abortion without notifying a parent. After remand from this Court, see In re Jane Doe, 19 S.W.3d 249 (Tex. 2000) ("Doe 1(I)"), the trial court conducted another hearing and found that Jane Doe failed to prove by a preponderance of the evide......
  • Ex parte Anonymous
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • June 1, 2001
    ...not to obtain parental consent. The Supreme Court of Texas recently grappled with this troublesome area of the law. See In re Jane Doe, 19 S.W.3d 249 (Tex.2000) ("Doe I"). In Doe I, that court announced criteria to aid the trial court in making determinations as to maturity and the knowledg......
  • Ex parte An Anonymousfs Minor, 1001488
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • June 1, 2001
    ...not to obtain parental consent. The Supreme Court of Texas recently grappled with this troublesome area of the law. See In re Jane Doe, 19 S.W.3d 249 (Tex. 2000) ("Doe I"). In Doe I, that court announced criteria to aid the trial court in making determinations as to maturity and the knowled......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT