Months after the passing of state legislation that required minors to have parental permission before legally obtaining abortions, the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Florida rejected a pregnant teenager’s plea to be excluded from the mandate.
The state of Florida has a law requiring parental notification before abortions can be performed. This law came into effect on July 1 of this year. The district court’s decision is one of the first since the more rigid laws requiring consent were passed.
The controversial parental consent bill was hotly debated during a judicial hearing earlier this year. It was initially presented in February but was not signed into effect by Gov. Ron DeSantis until a day before it went into effect on June 30.
A three-judge appellate court panel concurred with the previous ruling from a Hillsborough region circuit judge. The name of the teen was not given, and she was referred to as Jane Doe for the purposes of court proceedings.
The decision declared that the appellant was not mature enough to justify an exception. She was denied a judicial waiver that would have dismissed the consent and notice requirements currently in place.
The appellant was 14 at the time of the court hearing. She had been living with her 17-year-old boyfriend, who had impregnated her, throughout the proceeding.
Judge Daniel Sleet stated that the appellant’s “answers to the questioning of counsel and the trial court were vague.” He stated that the court’s review of Doe’s testimony supported their analysis that she was too immature to fully understand the procedure and its consequences.
Sleet further indicated that the court record supported their ruling. The minor’s testimony failed to provide sufficient evidence that she was mature enough to make the decision to end her pregnancy without the parental consent required by law.
The court’s ruling was based on an evaluation of whether the minor was mature enough to make such a decision. Ultimately, the court determined that she had given conflicting testimony.
Initially, the appellant had reported that her mother lived in Guatemala and that she had migrated to the United States with her father. She claimed that she feared punishment if she notified him of her pregnancy. However, she also stated that she was not living nor in communication with her father due to loss of contact information.
Previously, the teen had testified that she was seeking a judicial waiver due to fears that her mother would kick her out of the house if she knew about the pregnancy.
The decision makes clear that minors seeking a waiver for the parental consent requirement in Florida will have to show convincing evidence of maturity.
Because the parental consent law has only been in place for about two months, it is unclear exactly how it will affect the overall rate of abortion in Florida. However, this decision reflects the now increased difficulty of attaining abortion for minors in the state.
Featured image: A pro-choice demonstration in front of the United States Supreme Court. Unmodified photo by Jordan Uhl used under a Creative Commons license. (https://bit.ly/3llMNR4)