Welcome to our second annual Judicial Bypass Week at If/When/How! We’re highlighting the excellent work of attorneys, advocates, academics, and youth around the country who are working to make mandatory parental involvement laws a thing of the past, ensuring that young people who can’t involve their parents in their abortion decisions are able to access the care they need swiftly and without shame or stigma.
For nearly 20 years, Jane’s Due Process has been fighting to improve and protect young people’s abortion access in Texas through their statewide toll-free legal hotline, lawyer referral service, and advocacy work. Their leadership and coalition-building efforts (JDP co-sponsored If/When/How’s 2018 National Judicial Bypass Convening) have made the organization a model and key resource for others in the movement, so we asked Eleanor Genevieve Grano, Community Outreach & Youth Engagement Coordinator at Jane’s Due Process, to tell us about their latest efforts and big wins in the last year.
If/When/How: What barriers do young people face when accessing abortion care?
Eleanor Genevieve Grano: Parental consent laws are a major barrier for teens trying to access abortion care in Texas. Jane’s Due Process provides free, confidential legal services through our 24/7 hotline at 1-866-999-5263 so that teens can access abortion care through the judicial bypass process.
The young people JDP serves (referred to in court as “Jane” or “Janes” to maintain confidentiality) also have to deal with finding funding, traveling long distances, missing school or work, and numerous other challenges. Every barrier an adult seeking an abortion faces is magnified for a teen. Our Peer Support Leader and Youth Testify Abortion Storyteller HK Gray described it best in Teen Vogue when she said, “Teens are disproportionately impacted by the financial and logistical barriers to abortion. This has to change.”
Language access is also a major issue for some of our clients. Teens sometimes just rely on a court interpreter to accurately interpret a judge’s questions and their responses during the judicial bypass proceeding. Our court and healthcare systems are often inaccessible if English isn’t your primary language.
If/When/How: What have been the biggest wins for Jane’s Due Process this year?
EG: There have been so many wins this past year! In October 2018, we launched our Peer Support Program, which connects current Janes navigating the judicial bypass process with former Janes who can provide support and guidance. After a few months of launching the program and talking with our first cohort of peer leaders, we expanded the program to invest in leadership development as well.
Through the Peer Support Program, former Janes apply for and receive fellowships, career opportunities, and leadership positions with reproductive rights, health, and justice organizations. Ensuring that our Peer Support Leaders have access to paid leadership opportunities and secure employment allows them to remain involved in movement work. And through the program we also provide help with resume and cover letter writing, interview preparation, networking opportunities, and practical support to cover the costs associated with attending a leadership training or job interview.
Another win took place during the 2019 Texas legislative session. Two former Jane’s Due Process clients took part in Texas Abortion Funds Advocacy Day. After powerfully sharing their judicial bypass experiences with a Texas representative’s staff during an office visit, a staffer was so moved that they actually apologized to our clients for working for an anti-choice representative. That day really stuck with me. It really is an honor to witness the confidence, leadership and transformation of our former clients!
If/When/How: What makes Jane’s Due Process unique in terms of the role it plays in the repro rights, health, and justice movements?
EG: In Texas, teens need parental consent for everything related to sexual and reproductive health. Jane’s Due Process is unique because we support teens step-by-step as they navigate parental involvement laws for abortion, contraception, and STI testing and treatment in Texas. We also seek to center the voices of our clients because we know that their experiences are critically important in the movement.
Jane’s Due Process is also working hard to make our services as accessible as possible to teens. For example, we have a text hotline and we accept direct messages (DMs) on all our social media accounts from teens who have questions or need help. Using technology in creative ways is a daily part of how we fight for reproductive freedom in Texas!
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