(CNN) — A pregnant 16-year-old in Florida was denied a waiver to have an abortion without parental or legal guardian consent and notification, after a court found the teen failed to prove she was mature enough to make the decision.
Florida, which currently bans most abortions at 15 weeks, requires doctors to notify and obtain the written consent of a minor’s parent or legal guardian before performing an abortion. Under the law, a minor may petition a circuit court to waive these requirements.
The minor, who “has no parents” and lives with a relative, told the circuit court that her legal guardian is “fine with what [ella] want to do,” according to one of the appeals court judges.
A state circuit judge dismissed the pregnant teen’s request, finding that she “had not established by clear and convincing evidence that she was mature enough to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy,” according to an appeals court opinion issued Monday. .
In their opinion, a three-judge panel of the Florida First District Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision and said there was no need to return the ruling to the trial court.
The case was first reported by TheDailyBeast.
Judge halts Florida anti-abortion law set to start in JulyThe girl, identified in court documents as Jane Doe 22-B, was 10 weeks pregnant when she filed the petition with the Florida circuit court, according to Appeals Court Judge Scott Makar, who dissented in part.
In her petition, the teen claimed she is not ready to have a baby, does not have a job, is still in school and the father cannot support her, Makar said. Shortly before she decided to have an abortion, she also “experienced trauma (the death of a friend),” she wrote.
Escambia Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Frydrychowicz had denied the girl’s petition on the basis of her maturity, but said the girl “could, at a later date, properly articulate her request” and the court could reassess her request. decision, according to Makar, who wrote in his dissent that he would have sent the case back to the lower court.
“Reading between the lines, it appears that 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 deeper understanding of the consequences of terminating a pregnancy,” he added. .
When contacted by CNN, Frydrychowicz’s assistant said they had no further comment on the case.
Florida is one of six states that require both parental notification and consent for minors to have abortions, according to the reproductive rights think tank. Guttmacher Institute. For a judicial waiver of parental consent and notification, Florida requires a court to “declare, by clear and convincing evidence, that the minor is mature enough to decide to terminate her pregnancy.”
The court must consider factors such as the minor’s age, “general intelligence,” “credibility and behavior as a witness,” ability to assess consequences, and whether he understands the medical risks, according to state law.
“Ultimately, these decisions are left to the judges. It is more of an arbitrary decision because the judge in this case decided that the minor was not capable enough to understand what it means to terminate her pregnancy, however, that also means that the state says that they are capable enough to become parents,” he said. to CNN Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro, executive director of the abortion fund Florida Access Network.
Minors generally seek the judicial referral process because they cannot safely share their decision to have an abortion with their parents or guardians, according to Piñeiro.
The right to abortion as a political issueBut Piñeiro added that sometimes a minor goes through judicial diversion unnecessarily, perhaps due to misinformation or general confusion about the process and the Florida statute.
Autumn Katz, acting director of litigation for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said, “Parental consent laws have nothing to do with patient safety and only serve to stigmatize abortion care and place it further out of reach of Young”.
“No one, including pregnant minors, should be forced to go to court and sacrifice their dignity just to access the critical health care they need,” Katz said in a statement. “To obtain services without parental involvement, Floridians would have to travel thousands of miles to a state like Virginia, a barrier that most young people, many of whom have very limited resources, will not be able to overcome.”