Florida Judges Block ‘Parentless’ Teen From Abortion Because She’s Not Mature Enough to Decide

A Florida appeals court on Monday upheld a county court decision denying a teen’s request to have an abortion without notification and consent of a guardian because she is not “sufficiently mature” to make that decision.

Escambia County Circuit Judge Jessica Frydrychowicz initially denied the request to bypass that part of Florida’s anti-abortion law, although she left open the possibility that the 16-year-old could return “to adequately articulate her request,” The Pensacola News Journal reports.

At the time of the lower court ruling, the appellate court noted, the girl, identified as Jane Doe 22-B, was 10 weeks pregnant, but it’s not known when the circuit judge’s decision was made because juvenile proceedings are sealed. Florida law bans abortions at 15 weeks.

Judge Scott Makar, who partially dissented from the otherwise unanimous decision of the three-judge panel, wrote that Jane Doe 22-B is “parentless,” lives with a relative, and has an appointed guardian. In his dissent, Makar said that the court should have sent the case back to the lower court for further consideration, but his compatriorts — Judges Harvey Jay and Rachel Bordby — disagreed.

“The trial court’s order and findings are neither unclear nor lacking such that a remand would be necessary for us to perform our review under the statute,” they wrote in the main decision.

The main decision offered few details of the case, but Makar provided more information.

“She is pursuing a GED with involvement in a program designed to assist young women who have experienced trauma in their lives by providing educational support and counseling,” Makar wrote. “The minor experienced renewed trauma (the death of a friend) shortly before she decided to seek termination of her pregnancy.”

In her petition the court, the girl said she was not ready to have a baby and had no job and that the baby’s father could not help, Makar wrote.

Makar also noted that the teen didn’t avail herself of free legal services for her petition and appeared before Frydrychowicz with a case worker and a guardian ad-litem child advocate.

“The trial judge displayed concern for the minor’s predicament throughout the hearing; she asked difficult questions of the minor on sensitive personal matters in a compassionate manner,” Makar wrote. “The trial judge’s tone and method of questioning were commendable and her ability to produce a thoughtful written order in a rapid fashion is admirable (she prepared her written order immediately after the hearing, handing a copy thereafter to the minor). Based on the high standard of appellate review, I concur in affirmance of the factual findings of the trial court as well as her decision to deny the petition without prejudicing the minor from seeking relief from the trial court in coming days.”

The notification portion of Florida’s law has long been controversial. Supporters of the measure echo the judges’ thoughts that minors are not mature enough to make such a decision alone, but opponents argue that some minors will face harsh consequences if their parents or guardians learn they are pregnant. The requirement has consistently been upheld in court, however.

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[Featured image: FILE – Demonstrators rally against abortion at the Florida Capitol in May 2022. (AP Photo/Phil Sears – FILE)]]