Nebraska Revised Statute 71-6903
Abortion; authorized by court; when; procedures; confidentiality and anonymity; guardian ad litem; court order; specific factual findings and legal conclusions.
(1) The requirements and procedures under this section are available to pregnant women whether or not they are residents of this state.
(2) If a pregnant woman elects not to obtain the consent of her parents or guardians, a judge of a district court, separate juvenile court, or county court sitting as a juvenile court shall, upon petition or motion and after an appropriate hearing, authorize a physician to perform the abortion if the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that the pregnant woman is both sufficiently mature and well-informed to decide whether to have an abortion. If the court does not make the finding specified in this subsection or subsection (3) of this section, it shall dismiss the petition.
(3) If the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that there is evidence of abuse as defined in section 28-351, sexual abuse as defined in section 28-367, or child abuse or neglect as defined in section 28-710 of the pregnant woman by a parent or a guardian or that an abortion without the consent of a parent or a guardian is in the best interest of the pregnant woman, the court shall issue an order authorizing the pregnant woman to consent to the performance or inducement of an abortion without the consent of a parent or a guardian. If the court does not make the finding specified in this subsection or subsection (2) of this section, it shall dismiss the petition.
(4) The pregnant woman may commence an action for waiver of the consent requirement by the filing of a petition or motion personally, by mail, or by facsimile on a form provided by the State Court Administrator.
(5) The State Court Administrator shall develop the petition form and accompanying instructions on the procedure for petitioning the court for a waiver of consent, including the name, address, telephone number, and facsimile number of each court in the state. A sufficient number of petition forms and instructions shall be made available in each courthouse in such place that members of the general public may obtain a form and instructions without requesting such form and instructions from the clerk of the court or other court personnel. The State Court Administrator shall also make such forms and instructions available on a website maintained by the Supreme Court. The clerk of the court shall assist in administrative matters and filing the petition for waiver of consent.
(6) Proceedings in court pursuant to this section shall be confidential and shall ensure the anonymity of the pregnant woman. The pregnant woman shall have the right to file her petition in the court using a pseudonym or using solely her initials. Proceedings shall be held in camera. Only the pregnant woman, the pregnant woman's guardian ad litem, the pregnant woman's attorney, and a person whose presence is specifically requested by the pregnant woman or the pregnant woman's attorney may attend the hearing on the petition. All testimony, all documents, all other evidence presented to the court, the petition and any order entered, and all records of any nature and kind relating to the matter shall be maintained and sealed by the clerk of the court and shall not be open to any person except upon order of the court for good cause shown. A separate docket or the confidential index within the electronic case management system for the purposes of this section shall be maintained by the clerk of the court and shall likewise be sealed and not opened to inspection by any person except upon order of the court for good cause shown.
(7) A pregnant woman who is subject to this section may participate in the court proceedings on her own behalf, and the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for her. The court shall advise the pregnant woman that she has a right to court-appointed counsel and shall, upon her request, provide her with such counsel. Such counsel shall receive a fee to be fixed by the court and to be paid out of the treasury of the county in which the proceeding was held.
(8) Proceedings in court pursuant to this section shall be given such precedence on the trial docket over other pending matters so that the court may reach a decision promptly and without delay to serve the best interest of the pregnant woman. In no case shall the court fail to rule within seven calendar days from the time the petition is filed. If the court fails to rule within the required time period, the pregnant woman may file an application for a writ of mandamus with the Supreme Court. If cause for a writ of mandamus exists, the writ shall issue within three days.
(9) The court shall issue a written order which includes specific factual findings and legal conclusions supporting its decision which shall be provided immediately to the pregnant woman, the pregnant woman's guardian ad litem, the pregnant woman's attorney, and any other person designated by the pregnant woman to receive the order. Further, the court shall order that a confidential record of the evidence and the judge's findings and conclusions be maintained. At the hearing, the court shall hear evidence relating to the emotional development, maturity, intellect, and understanding of the pregnant woman.
A petition for waiver of parental consent-which seeks authorization from the court to have an abortion without the notarized written consent of a parent or guardian of the petitioner-is limited in scope. Because of the limited scope of such an action, the district court acts as a special statutory tribunal to summarily decide the issues authorized by this section. In re Petition of Anonymous 5, 286 Neb. 640, 838 N.W.2d 226 (2013).
The obvious intent of subsection (3) of this section is to avoid requiring a pregnant woman to obtain the consent of a parent or guardian who has abused or neglected her, acts which evidence an obvious disregard of her best interests or well-being. In re Petition of Anonymous 5, 286 Neb. 640, 838 N.W.2d 226 (2013).
Under the "evidence of abuse . . . or child abuse or neglect" provision of subsection (3) of this section, the pregnant woman must establish that a parent or guardian, who occupies that role in relation to her at the time she files her petition for waiver of parental consent, has either abused her as defined in section 28-351 or subjected her to child abuse or neglect as defined in section 28-710. In re Petition of Anonymous 5, 286 Neb. 640, 838 N.W.2d 226 (2013).
When the Legislature has expressly chosen a judicial forum for the resolution of issues under this section, it is not the Nebraska Supreme Court's province to rewrite this section or suggest alternate or additional procedures to be utilized in this context, unless the judicial bypass statute violates the state or federal Constitution or a federal treaty. In re Petition of Anonymous 5, 286 Neb. 640, 838 N.W.2d 226 (2013).
In a proceeding brought under section 71-6901 et seq., the burden of proof on all issues rests with the pregnant woman, and such burden must be established by clear and convincing evidence. As related to a pregnant woman's abortion decision, maturity is not solely a matter of social skills, level of intelligence, or verbal skills, but, more importantly, a matter of experience, perspective, and judgment. In re Petition of Anonymous I, 251 Neb. 424, 558 N.W.2d 784 (1997).