B was visiting her partner when she felt a gut feeling, a churning sensation in her body that led to her taking a pregnancy test.
She said that she had become robotic and shut out all emotions and any other emotion. "I felt like my entire life was going down the drain, because that's what society portrays."
B was 17 when she discovered she was pregnant. We will refer to her by her first name because she isn't ready for her family. It was her last year in high school, at the end of 2020.
"I knew right away that I couldn't handle it. She said that abortion was her only option.
B found a nearby clinic that would perform an abortifaction just hours after discovering she was pregnant.
She was then informed that she required parental consent.
Texas is where B lives. In 36 other states, minors also need to inform their parents about their pregnancy and obtain consent to end it. There is a way around this. It's called "judicial bypass." A minor can present themselves before a judge to prove that they are competent to make the decision.
B stated, "I was very scared because whenever you hear the words 'judge' and 'hearing' it implies you did something wrong."
If the Supreme Court's Dobbs v. Jackson decision weakens, or overturns federal abortion protections established under Roe v. Wade, then judicial bypass could disappear completely.
Minors, already among the most vulnerable group seeking abortion in the U.S.A, would need to travel long distances to obtain care.
"Teens cannot travel as easily as adults, especially if their pregnancy is confidential." Rosann Mariapuram, the executive director of Jane's Due Process (an organization that assists teenagers in navigating interstate travel and judicial bypass for abortion care), says they have to explain why they missed school, work or were away for a few days.
It is the same organization that helped B get her judicial bypass.
B was disappointed that she had to go through a complex court process with little support in a stressful time. But she was thankful to have another option to tell her mother about her pregnancy.
B was familiar with this experience because her sister had given birth in high school. This deeply affected her relationship with her mother.
"I feared that if she were to find out I was pregnant, all of her judgements and resentments would be brought down on me."
B lived with her mother at that time. B claimed her mother had immigrated to America for better opportunities for her children. It was not part of the equation for her daughter to have a child before she married.
B sought out a clinic that would do an ultrasound to prove she was pregnant. Texas law requires that an ultrasound be performed by a doctor. This is only if the court has given her permission.
All this happened during the pandemic. B was unable to travel with her partner to appointments.
B stated, "I felt alone because I couldn't find support from anyone,"
B had a hearing just two weeks after her ultrasound. It lasted 30 minutes, but she said it felt like several hours. She felt that the judge was asking her questions about her character and her ability to make a decision regarding her body.
She said, "In a sense, they were just trying change my mind."
B was granted permission by the court to have an abortion. However, shortly after the hearing, B discovered that the doctor who performed the ultrasound on her had left the clinic. B was forced to restart the judicial bypass process.
It was February 2021 when she finished it the second time. Then, Texas was hit by winter storm Uri. It shut down much of Texas' critical infrastructure. This caused B to delay her procedure once again.
B stated, "I was just super afraid because I knew there would be a time limit on my abortion." This was before SB-8, meaning that B could have an abortion for up to 20 weeks.
B was not able to overcome the adverse circumstances or bad luck. Mariappuram, Jane's Due Process stated that young clients of her organization often experience delays.
She said that almost all cases are complex. "And that's because you don't know a parent if you are a young person. This is often because you are already living in oppression at other intersections.
B was almost three months pregnant when she finally got an abortion. Although she admitted that it was hard, she said she felt emotional numb for several weeks following the procedure. However, she felt relieved.
B is thankful she had the procedure. It allowed her to live a life she never thought possible. She now lives with her partner and their dog. She is working and saving for college. She said, "I plan on having children in a few year's time, once I have everything settled and know that I don’t have to struggle to make ends meet with money."
B is now concerned about her peers who may not be able to have an abortion in Texas or elsewhere in the country if Roe falls.
She said, "There's no reason for me or any teenagers to have to go through these hoops to make a decision that is ultimately ours to make."
Mariappuram is also concerned about the winnowing of options for teenage girls to obtain abortion care in the next months.
She stated that minors are vulnerable because they don't get to vote and they don't often have voices in the legislature. "Anti-abortion legislators will continue to try to attack the judicial bypass."
Florida went from requiring parental notification of minors seeking abortion to requiring consent in the last two years.
Mariappuram stated that there was a strong effort to keep attacking minors and making it harder for judicial bypass, even in states where abortion might still be legal.
"A whole generation will lose a right that all of us have enjoyed for fifty years."