Florida Court Rules Pregnant Teen Not ‘Mature’ Enough to Decide on Abortion

Florida Court Rules Pregnant Teen Not ‘Mature’ Enough to Decide on Abortion
Pro-abortion advocates march to the Florida Capitol to protest a bill before the Florida legislature to limit abortions in Tallahassee, Florida on Feb. 16, 2022. (Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

A Florida appeals court upheld a decision to deny a pregnant 16-year-old an abortion, as she is not “sufficiently mature” to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy.

The ruling affirmed an earlier decision by Escambia County Circuit Judge Jennifer Frydrychowicz to block the teenager's abortion request, identified as "Jane Doe 22-B," without consent from a parental or legal guardian under the state law, according to a court filing (pdf) by Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeals.

The pregnant girl "had not established by clear and convincing evidence that she was sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy,” Judges Harvey Jay, Rachel Nordby, and Scott Makar stated on Aug. 15. The three mostly sided with Frydrychowicz, although Makar suggested that the case be sent back to the circuit judge in Tallahassee for a potential further review.

“Given the open-ended nature of the order reflecting the trial judge’s willingness to hear from the minor again—and the time pressures presented—I would remand the case to the trial court,” he wrote in a separate opinion.

The "parentless" girl was about 10 weeks into her pregnancy when she requested an abortion, seeking a “judicial bypass” of parental permission, Makar said.

Her handwritten petition said she is mature enough to make the decision while not “ready to have a baby” herself. The unemployed teen lives with a relative, and has an appointed guardian who approved of her decision and accompanied her to court, according to the court papers. She is also “pursuing a GED with involvement in a program designed to assist young women who have experienced trauma in their lives.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act into law in mid-April, banning most abortions after 15 weeks. A circuit judge temporarily delayed the new law on June 30, a day before it was to go into effect, saying it was “unconstitutional.”
In June 2020, the Republican governor signed SB 404, legislation that requires girls under the age of 18 to obtain written permission from their parents or legal guardians before having an abortion.