An appeals court in Florida ruled Monday that a 16-year-old girl was not “mature enough” to decide to terminate her pregnancy.
The decision comes after a circuit judge in northwest Florida ruled that the teen could not have an abortion without the notification and consent of a parent or guardian, despite the teen being found to be “parentless.”
The teen asked to get around the Florida law that requires all persons in the state under the age of 18 to obtain parental consent before undergoing an abortion. At the time of the original hearing, the teen was 10 weeks pregnant, although it’s unclear how far along she was at the time of Monday’s decision.
According to the ruling, the teen, unnamed and referred to as Jane Doe 22-B, lives with a relative and has an appointed guardian.
In her first lawsuit, the teen said her guardian was “allowed” for her to pursue an abortion.
Escambia County Circuit Judge Jessica Frydrychowicz denied the bypass request and a panel of three judges from the 1st District Court of Appeal upheld the decision.
Judges Harvey Jay and Rachel Nordby agreed with the entire decision and believed that the case should not be sent back to the circuit judge. Judge Scott Makar stood by the decision to block the bypass but disagreed with the case closing, instead claiming the teen’s request should be returned to the circuit judge for further consideration.
According to Makar’s dissent, the teen seeks a GED with “involvement in a program designed to help young women who have experienced trauma in their lives by providing educational support and counseling.”
The ruling said the teen endured “renewed trauma” when her boyfriend died shortly before trying to have an abortion.
Makar continued to write that the teen said in a court petition that she was “sufficiently mature” to make an abortion decision and was not ready to have a baby because she had no job and the father couldn’t help her. .
According to the ruling, the teen came to her circuit hearing with a caseworker and a guardian ad litem for child advocates. Makar said she “inexplicably” chose not to request representation by a lawyer, which would have been free.
Makar said the trial was conducted admirably, as the trial judge “expressed concern about the minor’s predicament during the hearing. [and] compassionately asked the minor difficult questions about sensitive personal matters.”
However, Makar wrote that the case was a “close call” and that the teen “sometimes showed that she is stable and mature enough to make this decision.”
Makar said in the ruling that the teen had studied abortion and gained an understanding of her medical options and their implications.
The ruling said the court had ruled that the teen “recognizes that she is not ready for the emotional, physical or financial responsibility of raising a child” and “has well-founded concerns about her ability to raise a child.” .
Makar, in his dissenting opinion, said he believed the court wanted to give the teen extra time to process her boyfriend’s death before deciding to have an abortion, and that he should be able to return to the hospital. court to file her case further.
Florida law prohibits abortions after 15 weeks, significantly earlier than the 24-week hiatus that existed in state laws prior to the June overturn of Roe v. Wade. The 15-week ban is currently being challenged in state courts.
Under the state’s “Parental Notice of and Consent for Abortion Act,” doctors must obtain written consent from a parent or legal guardian before performing an abortion on a minor. Exceptions are made in medical emergencies or with parental or guardian waiver.
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