Florida: where a 16-year-old is apparently old enough to be forced to give birth but not “sufficiently mature” to make the decision to get an abortion. This dystopian reality is brought to you by Governor Ron DeSantis, who, in 2020, signed a bill requiring parental consent for minors having abortions. Now a new ruling from Florida’s First District Court of Appeal has found that an unidentified teen should not be granted the right to make decisions about her own body.
Jane Doe, 16, originally petitioned a court for a judicial waiver of the parental/legal-guardian requirement and was denied because she “had not established by clear and convincing evidence that she was sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy.” She took her case to appeal, where the court ruled against her. According to the official ruling, Jane Doe is parentless and currently pursuing her GED. She also asserted on her initial request for a waiver that her legal guardian “is fine with” her decision to get an abortion and that she did not have a job or support from the child’s father. So, naturally, the judge decided she should be forced into potential parenthood.
Despite writing that the minor “showed, at times, that she is stable and mature enough to make this decision,” the trial judge denied her petition without prejudice, leaving the door open for Jane Doe to make her case again if she so chose. One appellate judge, Judge Scott Makar, wrote in a partial concurring and partial dissent opinion that he believed the judge did so to “give the minor, who was under extra stress due to a friend’s death, additional time to express a keener understanding of the consequences of terminating a pregnancy.” Makar encouraged Jane Doe to return to the original court judge. The court document also stated that Jane Doe was ten weeks along in her pregnancy at her initial trial. (According to the ruling, the appellate court was required to respond within a week of Jane Doe’s filing, suggesting her original trial was at least seven days ago.) Florida currently has a 15-week abortion ban with a mandatory 24-hour waiting period.
This is, unsurprisingly, not the first time a Florida case like this has garnered public attention. In January, an unnamed 17-year-old’s petition for a parental-consent waiver was denied because of her GPA. In the denial, Judge Jared Smith wrote that Jane Doe testified to having a B average but actually had a lower GPA, according to official records, and that this error was evident of “either a lack of intelligence or credibility.” The 17-year-old appealed the decision, and it was overturned by a district court, but the story raised red flags for activists as proof of what trivial excuses judges could use to deny a woman’s right to choose abortion and to force a minor to give birth.