A Florida appeals court will force a parentless 16-year-old to give birth because the teen is not “mature enough” to decide for herself whether or not to terminate the pregnancy.
A circuit court judge previously denied the girl’s request to waive a state law requiring minors to obtain parental consent for an abortion. On Monday, a panel of three judges confirmed the decision.
‘It’s so deeply wrong, on so many levels’, health advocate Harry Nelson, who is not involved in the case, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “…True believers who think it’s a good thing to require children to have children, that they think it’s going to be a net benefit to anyone, are in a delusional place.”
The unnamed teenager, according to the appeal decision, earns a GED through a program for young people who have experienced traumatic events in their lives. In her petition, the girl – who lives with a parent and has an appointed guardian – argued that she is ‘still in school’ and ‘not ready to have a baby’, noting that her guardian was “agree with what [she] wants to do.
She met with Escambia County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer J. Frydrychowicz, as well as a social worker and children’s advocate, but ‘inexplicably’ did not request an attorney who would have represented her for free , according to the decision.
“The trial judge showed concern about the situation of the minor throughout the hearing; she asked the minor difficult questions about sensitive personal matters with compassion,” he continues. “The trial judge’s tone and method of questioning was commendable and her ability to quickly produce a thoughtful written order is admirable (she prepared her written order immediately after the hearing, then giving a copy to the minor) .”
Frydrychowicz saw the case “as a very close call”, the decision states, describing the judge’s impression of the teenager as “credible” and “open”, and that she “showed, at times, that “She’s stable and mature enough to make that decision.”
It says the girl was 10 weeks pregnant at the time, but does not provide a specific timeline that would indicate how far she would be now. She was “knowledgeable” about what terminating a pregnancy entailed, had done Google searches and read a pamphlet given to her at a medical clinic, the ruling noted. It also says the teenager “recognizes that she is not ready to take on the emotional, physical or financial responsibility of raising a child” and “has valid concerns about her ability to raise a child”.
Still, Frydrychowicz opted to deny the motion, although she did not rule out reconsidering whether the teenager was “able, at a later date, to articulate her request adequately”, according to a partial dissent from the judge. Scott Makar.
“Reading between the lines, it appears the trial court wanted to give the minor, who was under additional stress due to the death of a friend, additional time to express a better understanding of the consequences of a hiatus. pregnancy,” Makar wrote. “It makes sense given that the minor, at least at one point, said she was open to having a child, but then changed her mind after considering her inability to care for a child in his current situation in life.”
However, Justices Harvey Jay and Rachel Nordby wrote in the main decision that the trial court found that the teenager “did not establish by clear and convincing evidence that she was mature enough to decide to discontinue whether or not her pregnancy”.
Florida law “allows a remand to the trial court with directions for further disposition, but no remand is warranted here,” the appeals judges said. “The trial court’s order and findings are not unclear or missing, such that a remand would be necessary for us to conduct our review under the statute.”
Nelson, the attorney, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that the repercussions of Monday’s decision are sure to be profound.
“It is going to have terrible consequences for the young woman, for the baby who will be born because of it and for society,” he said. “It’s almost like a form of bondage to prevent a young girl from having an abortion.”
Besides “generating horror,” decisions like Monday’s will only serve to force women to seek out unsafe abortions on the black market, according to Nelson. This, he said, “will make it clear that self-managed abortions away from the system will be the only option for many women.”
The teenager’s case rested on the 2020s Abortion Parental Advice and Consent Actmaking it a third-degree felony for a doctor to terminate the pregnancy of an “unenemancipated minor without the required consent”.
“Thanks to Ron DeSantis, Florida is now forcing a teenage girl to give birth against her will,” Florida Democratic Party spokesman Travis Reuther said in an emailed statement. “This is an appalling and dangerous overreach on the part of the Governor, who claims to represent ‘the Free State of Florida’, but who wants to make decisions about women’s health for him. DeSantis has refused to answer basic questions about abortion restrictions for months now, but his extreme bans are already carrying dire consequences for Florida women.
Lucy Sedgwick, president and CEO of Ruth’s List Florida, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice women in the state, told The Daily Beast that the decision is not only “downright cruel, it’s is inadmissible”.
“I can’t understand the sheer hypocrisy of forcing a teenage girl to pursue a pregnancy because she’s ‘not mature enough’ – but is she mature enough to bear and raise a child?” said Sedgwick. “Where is the logic in that? »
The state is “retreating even further when it comes to our most basic freedoms,” according to Sedgwick. “Floridians overwhelmingly want and deserve the right to make their own reproductive health decisions without political interference. But with the loss of deer and Florida Republicans determined to ban all abortions in the state, the most important thing we can do is get out and vote.
According to Human Rights Watch, the majority of young people “voluntarily involve a parent or other trusted adult in their abortion decision, even if the law does not require it. But for those who don’t—often because they fear abuse, the deterioration of family relationships, being kicked out of the home, or being forced to pursue a pregnancy—laws like Florida’s stand in the way of their care. .
“I think we live in a topsy-turvy world in that everyone thinks it’s a good result on every level,” Nelson said. “That’s crazy The Handmaid’s Tale has gone from a work of fiction to a non-fiction work in our lifetime. That’s a pretty powerful statement.