The 16-year-old orphan and lawyer less teen denied abortion by court
A Florida judge has decided that a 16-year-old girl does not have the necessary “maturity” to undergo an abortion.
In a hearing held on Monday, August 16th, the judge concluded that the teen “had not established by clear and convincing evidence that she was sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy.”
Since the state of Florida forbids teenagers from obtaining abortions without their parents’ consent, the youngster was unable to make the decision to do so on her own.
The youngster was characterised as ‘parentless’ and ‘lives with a relative but has an assigned guardian’, who ‘is fine with what [she] wants to do.’
The guardian’s consent would not have allowed her to abort the pregnancy, however, because they had not expressed their wishes in writing.
The judgement adds that the youngster “inexplicably” waived her right to legal representation, and that a caseworker and a child advocate were present in court with her as a result.
According to the transcript, Circuit Judge Jennifer J. Frydrychowicz found the teen to be ‘credible,’ ‘open,’ and ‘non-evasive,’ and said that the teen “showed, at times, that she is stable and mature enough to make this decision.”
She finally concluded that the youngster was not ready to make her own decision, but she did note that it was “a very close call” and that the matter could be revisited “at a later date.”
According to the judgement, “[The teen] had done Google searches and reviewed a pamphlet (that she and a family member got from their visit to a medical clinic) to gain an understanding about her medical options and their consequences,”
To paraphrase the trial judge’s findings, “the minor acknowledges she is not ready for the emotional, physical, or financial responsibility of raising a child” and “has valid concerns about her ability to raise a child.”
The Escambia County Circuit Court requested extra time so that the youngster may fully consider the implications of her decision to have an abortion.
However, time is of the essence, as she is already about 10 weeks pregnant and abortion is outlawed in Florida after 15 weeks.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a minor must have their parents’ consent in order to have an abortion in 36 of the 50 states.
This approach has been heavily criticised due to the risks it may pose to the pregnant girl.
According to Advocates for Youth, one in five pregnant youths “have experienced physical abuse by a parent or other caretaker,” and 30% of pregnant teens who hid their pregnancies cited fear of violence or being forced to leave home as their motivation for doing so.