Florida judge rules pregnant 16-yr-old not mature enough to decide on abortion

A pregnant Florida teen’s efforts to obtain an abortion were stymied in court after a believed “very close call” found the girl not “sufficiently mature” to make the decision.

Last week, Judge Jennifer J. Frydyrychowicz of the First Judicial Circuit Court in Escambia County, Fla. found that a 16-year-old pregnant girl, identified as Jane Doe 22-B, could not satisfy the state’s requirements to consent to an abortion.

The minor, who was ten weeks pregnant according to court documents, is parentless and living with a relative while having an appointed guardian from Florida’s Department of Children & Families, as reported by Fox News. That guardian was said to be “fine with what [Doe] wants to do,” but Florida’s First District Court of Appeal upheld Frydrychowicz’s decision “that Appellant had not established by clear and convincing evidence that she was sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy.”

That decision was rendered by the three-member panel consisting of Judges Harvey Jay, Rachel Nordby and Scott Makar who, while concurring with his peers, had also filed a partial dissent.

As he wrote in dissent, Frydrychowicz had seen the “matter as a very close, finding that the minor was ‘credible,’ ‘open’ with the judge, and non-evasive.” He elaborated on Doe’s pursuit of a GED and acknowledgment of her lack of job and financial support from the father who “is unable to assist her,” before stating, “Indeed, the minor ‘showed, at times, that she is stable and mature enough to make this decision.'”

“Reading between the lines, it appears that the trial court wanted 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 opined. “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.”

Prior to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) had signed a number of legislative acts to tamp down on the practice of abortion in the state including a late-term abortion ban prohibiting terminating a pregnancy after 15 weeks save for certain exceptions in April and SB 404 in June 2020 that required consent for minors seeking abortions.

“Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history,” DeSantis had said when signing the late-term ban.

Makar concluded, based on his interpretation of Frydrychowicz’s ruling, to remand the case back to the Circuit Court stating, “Given the trial court’s entreaty to the minor that it may ‘re-evaluate its decision’ under the circumstances, as well as the unaddressed guardian consent issue, I would remand for the three-day statutory period to clarify such matters, and dissent on that basis.”


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Kevin Haggerty


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