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Florida court rules 16-year-old too immature to decide if she can have an abortion

Oklahoma Abortion Clinic
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

(PENSACOLA, Florida) — A Florida court of appeal upheld a decision ruling a 16-year-old pregnant teen could not get an abortion because she lacked the maturity to make such a decision.

Jane Doe 22-B, the name given to the minor within court records, has no parents but is in the care of Florida’s child welfare agency. She told the lower court that she was not ready to have a baby because she did not have a job, and the father was unable to assist her in raising the baby. She is about 10 weeks pregnant and currently resides with a relative and legal guardian.

The teen also stated that she was pursuing a GED and assured the court that the appointed guardian was “fine” with her decision to have an abortion.

Judge Jennifer Frydrychowicz ruled that the teen did not “adequately articulate her request” and therefore left open the option for re-evaluating her decision if the teen, who was 10 weeks pregnant at the time, could return to juvenile court to eliminate any lingering doubts, according to an order filed Monday from Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.

It was unclear when the lower court ruling took place.

The appellate court order stated that it appeared the lower court anticipated a renewed application by the teen.  Judge Scott Makar wrote in the appellate court order. “This makes some sense given that the minor, at least at one point, says she was open to having a child, but later changed her view after considering her inability to care for a child in her current station in life.”

Florida abortion law requires parents to consent before a minor can have an abortion, however, underage teens can circumvent the consent requirement by asking for a waiver from a state circuit court judge.

The ruling on this case comes after Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill outlining the state’s 15-week abortion ban. 

That bill is now headed to the Florida Supreme Court.


(Evelyn Romo also contributed to this story)