TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida court of appeal this week upheld a decision stating a 16-year-old teen could not get an abortion because she lacked the maturity to make such a decision, even after the parent-less teen said she was not ready to have a child and is still in school.
An opinion released Monday by the Florida 1st District Court of Appeal upheld an earlier
decision by a state court judge. That judge was not convinced the teen had demonstrated the maturity to choose to get an abortion. The teen, identified only as Jane Doe 22-B, has no parents but is in the care of Florida’s child welfare agency and has a guardian. She is about 10 weeks pregnant and currently resides with a relative.
“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,’” the Monday order states. “And the father is unable to assist her.”
Florida abortion law requires parents to consent before a minor can have an abortion. But underage teens can also circumvent the consent requirement by asking for a waiver from a state circuit court judge. According to the appeal court’s decision, the teen’s guardian supports the teen’s wish to get an abortion.
Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2020 signed into law a measure that made parental consent for an abortion a requirement for minors. The new law was a win for Republicans who long sought to topple precedent set by the state Supreme Court in 1989 when it rejected a similar parental notification law that was declared a violation of privacy. Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 that led the Legislature to create a parental notification requirement, but it provides for exceptions and the ability for minors to ask the court for waivers.