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      RS 40:1061.14     

  

§1061.14. Minors

            A. No physician shall perform or induce an abortion upon any pregnant woman who is under the age of eighteen years and who is not emancipated judicially or by marriage unless the physician or a qualified person acting as agent of the physician pursuant to R.S. 40:1061.17(B)(4)(c) has received those documents provided for in either Paragraph (1) or (2) of this Subsection:

            (1)(a) A notarized statement signed by the mother, father, legal guardian, or tutor of the unemancipated minor declaring that the affiant has been informed that the minor intends to seek an abortion and that the affiant consents to the abortion. The affiant shall provide sufficient evidence of identity that shall be expressly specified in the affidavit to establish an articulable basis for a reasonably prudent person to believe that the affiant is one of the following:

            (i) The lawful mother.

            (ii) The lawful father.

            (iii) The legal guardian.

            (iv) The lawful tutor of the minor.

            (b) A copy of a valid and unexpired driver's license or a government-issued identification card of the individual giving consent on behalf of the unemancipated minor as provided for in Subparagraph (a) of this Paragraph.

            (2) A court order as provided in Subsection B of this Section.

            B. The following provisions shall apply to all applications for court orders by minors seeking abortions and appeals from denials of applications:

            (1) Jurisdiction to hear applications shall be in the court having juvenile jurisdiction in the parish where the abortion is to be performed or the parish in which the minor is domiciled.

            (2) Each clerk of each court which has jurisdiction to hear such applications shall prepare application forms in clear and concise language which shall provide step-by-step instructions for filling out and filing the application forms. All application forms shall be submitted to the attorney general for his approval. Each clerk shall assist each minor who requests assistance in filling out or filing the application forms.

            (3)(a) Each application shall be heard in chambers, anonymously, in a summary manner, within four days, excluding legal holidays, of the filing thereof.

            (b)(i) Prior to such ex parte hearing, the court may require the minor to participate in an evaluation and counseling session with a mental health professional from the Louisiana Department of Health, office of behavioral health, or a staff member from the Department of Children and Family Services, office of children and family services, or both. The court may refer the petitioner, if necessary, to the appropriate Louisiana Department of Health, office of behavioral health regional office to arrange the evaluation and counseling session within the four- day period prior to the ex parte hearing, as provided in this Paragraph. This referral may be made by the clerk upon the minor's filing the application when the court has issued a standing order authorizing same and the circumstances fit the criteria of the standing order therefor.

            (ii) Such evaluation and counseling session shall be for the purpose of developing trustworthy and reliable expert opinion concerning the minor's sufficiency of knowledge, insight, judgment, and maturity with regard to her abortion decision in order to aid the court in its decision and to make the state's resources available to the court for this purpose. Persons conducting such sessions shall employ the information and printed materials referred to in R.S. 40:1061.17 in examining how well the minor interviewed is informed about pregnancy, fetal development, abortion risks and consequences, the indicators of human trafficking, and abortion alternatives, and shall also endeavor to verify that the minor is seeking an abortion of her own free will and is not acting under intimidation, threats, abuse, undue pressure, or extortion by any other persons and is not a victim of a coerced abortion as defined in Children's Code Article 603.

            (iii) For purposes of providing screening to protect the safety and well-being of the minor, such evaluation and counseling session shall also endeavor to ascertain whether the minor is pregnant as a result of sexual activity constituting a crime under the laws of this state, or as a result of commercial sexual exploitation of the minor, and shall inform the minor of resources available for her protection.

            (iv) The results of such evaluation and counseling shall be reported to the court by the most expeditious means, commensurate with security and confidentiality, to assure receipt by the court prior to or at the ex parte hearing.

            (4)(a) If the minor has not been interviewed in such evaluation and counseling session prior to the ex parte hearing, such that the court does not have the benefit of the required report, then the court may appoint a certified child advocate attorney to be present with the minor at the ex parte hearing for the purpose of assisting the minor in communicating to the court whether her abortion decision is made with sufficient maturity and free and informed consent, commensurate with the duty of confidentiality. A certified child advocate attorney shall be given sufficient time on the same day as the ex parte hearing to review with the minor the information and printed materials referred to in R.S. 40:1061.17, in evaluating how well the minor is informed about pregnancy, fetal development, abortion risks and consequences, the indicators of human trafficking, and abortion alternatives. The certified child advocate attorney shall also endeavor to assist in the court's determination of whether the minor is seeking the abortion of her own free will and is not acting under intimidation, threats, undue pressure, or extortion by other persons, is not a victim of coerced abortion as defined in Children's Code Article 603, and is not in need of assistance or protective orders if the minor is a victim of commercial sexual exploitation as defined in Children's Code Article 603, or any crime against the child as defined in Children's Code Article 603.

            (b) If the court, using reasoned judgment and evidentiary evaluation, finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that the minor is sufficiently mature and well enough informed to make the decision concerning the abortion on her own, and further finds that the minor is not a victim of coerced abortion, and is seeking the abortion of her own free will, the court shall issue an order authorizing the minor to act on the matter without parental consultation or consent.

            (c) Whether or not the court authorizes the abortion, if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the minor is a victim of commercial sexual exploitation as defined in Children's Code Article 603, or any crime against the child as defined in Children's Code Article 603, the court may issue any appropriate protective orders or afford the minor the continued services of a court-appointed special advocate, or both.

            (5) If the court finds that the minor is not sufficiently mature and well enough informed to make a decision intelligently among the alternatives, the court shall decide whether or not it would be in the best interest of the minor to notify her parents or guardian of the proceedings. If the court finds that it is in the minor's best interest to notify her parents or guardian, the court shall so notify and reconvene the proceedings within forty-eight hours with the parents or guardian present to advise and counsel the minor and aid the court in making its determination whether or not the abortion would be in the best interest of the minor.

            (6) If the court finds that the minor is not sufficiently mature and well enough informed to make the decision concerning the abortion and further finds that it would not be in the minor's best interest to notify her parents or guardian, the court shall issue an order authorizing the abortion if the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that the abortion would be in the best interest of the minor. However, as stated in Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U.S. 622, 647 (1979), "the court may deny the abortion request of an immature minor in the absence of parental consultation if it concludes that her best interests would be served thereby."

            (7) In all cases, the court shall issue its final judgment and order immediately upon completion of the reconvened hearing, if there is one, or immediately upon completion of the original ex parte hearing, if there is no reconvened hearing, and in any case where unusual justification exists for taking the matter under advisement, the court shall report taking the matter under advisement to the Supreme Court of Louisiana and to the court of appeal for the circuit to which appeals lie from the court and shall issue its final judgment and order within forty-eight hours after taking the matter under advisement at the completion of such hearing. Appeals from decisions of the court hearing the application shall be by trial de novo in the court of appeal.

            (8) Each clerk of each court of appeal shall prepare appeal forms in clear and concise language which shall provide step-by-step instructions for filling out and filing the appeal forms. All appeal forms shall be submitted to the attorney general for his approval. Each clerk shall assist each minor who requests assistance in filling out or filing the appeal forms.

            (9) Each appeal shall be heard in chambers, anonymously, in a summary manner, and within forty-eight hours of the filing thereof.

            (10) The decision of the court of appeal shall be based on the criteria provided in Paragraphs (4), (5), and (6) of this Subsection, and such court shall issue its final judgment and order within forty-eight hours of its hearing.

            (11) Each minor who declares to the clerk of the court hearing the application or appeal that she does not have sufficient funds to pay for the costs of the application or the appeal shall be allowed to proceed in forma pauperis.

            (12) Each minor who files an application or an appeal shall be entitled to an initial hearing and a determination by the court independently of any notice to or consultation with her parents, tutor, or guardian.

            (13) Except as otherwise provided in this Section, or as otherwise provided by rule of court, hearings of applications and appeals shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Louisiana Children's Code.

            C.(1) Nothing in this Section shall be construed as creating or recognizing a right to abortion.

            (2) It is not the intention of this Section to make lawful an abortion that is unlawful on July 10, 1997, or which later becomes unlawful.

            D. Nothing in this Section shall be deemed or construed to affect or alter existing law on the confidentiality of proceedings and records related thereto, except to the extent specifically contained in this Section.

            Added by Acts 1978, No. 435, §1. Amended by Acts 1980, No. 418, §1; Acts 1981, No. 774, §1, eff. July 23, 1981; Acts 1995, No. 1254, §1; Acts 1997, No. 933, §1, eff. July 10, 1997; Acts 2009, No. 384, §5, eff. July 1, 2010; Redesignated from R.S. 40:1299.35.5 by HCR 84 of 2015 R.S; Acts 2017, No. 165, §1.

            NOTE: See Acts 1995, No. 1254, §2, re: severability.

            NOTE: See Acts 1997, No. 933, §§2, 4, re: intent and severability.



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