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A court has ruled that a pregnant 16-year-old isn’t mature enough to get an abortion.
An opinion document released on Monday by the Florida 1st District Court of Appeal maintained the previous decision by a state court judge.
The appeal did not persuade the judge that the teenager demonstrated a level of maturity to choose to terminate her pregnancy - even though the teen stated she was not ready to give birth and raise a child and is still in the school system.
The Tallahassee-based young woman, referred to under the pseudonym Jane Doe 22-B, is under the care of Florida’s child welfare agency and has a guardian, and is currently around 10 weeks gestation.
Following the recent Roe v Wade Supreme Court ruling, there is a 15-week abortion ban in the state. However, Florida law states that most under 18-year-olds must involve a parent or legal guardian in their decision to receive abortion care.
The young woman could not tell her parents about her pregnancy and choice to obtain a termination, so had to ask for an order from a judge to bypass her parents. In the end, this was denied.
The court order read: “The minor states that she is sufficiently mature to make the decision, saying she ‘is not ready to have a baby,’ she doesn’t have a job, she is ‘still in school and the father is unable to assist her'.”
The teenager’s legal guardian has supported their wish to obtain an abortion, according to the appeal court’s decision.
A representative of MSI Reproductive Choices, which provides contraception and abortion services to 37 countries across the globe, told UNILAD that the decision is 'cruel and dangerous'.
Louise McCudden, the advocacy and public affairs advisor at the organisation, said: "Forcing anyone to continue a pregnancy against their will is cruel, dangerous and a violation of their bodily autonomy.
“When that person is a sixteen-year-old girl, and she’s being forced to continue a pregnancy against her will on the basis that she isn’t mature enough to end it, you have to wonder what on earth is going on in the mind of anyone who could feel that was a reasonable decision.”
This particular court decision marks one of around 200 appeals each year launched by minors attempting to bypass the parental notification laws in the state on which circuit court judges make a decision.
Despite this young woman’s court outcome, POLITICO reported that the majority of these petitions are approved, while judges deny an average of 18 petitions each year.
For help, support and advice about abortion, contact the National Abortion Federation on 1-800-772-9100, EST 8am-7pm EST Monday to Friday or EST 8am-4pm EST Saturday to Sunday