16-Year-Old Denied Abortion, Florida Court Ruled She’s Not ‘Mature’ Enough To Terminate

A court in Florida ruled that a pregnant and “parentless” 16-year-old is “sufficiently mature” enough give birth after petitioning to have an abortion.

“The trial court found … that [the teenager] had not established by clear and convincing evidence that she was sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy,” states the ruling given on Monday, which affirmed the decision made by a circuit judge.

16-Year-Old Denied Abortion, Florida Court Ruled She’s Not ‘Mature’ Enough To Terminate

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The unnamed teenager had requested to bypass a Florida law requiring the permission of a parent or legal guardian in order to have an abortion as a minor, according to the ruling.

In her petition, which the ruling described, the teen wrote that she was “not ready to have a baby” and that the father was unable to assist her. She did not have a job and was pursuing a GED with the help of a “program designed to assist young women who have experienced trauma in their lives” due to the recent death of a friend, her petition stated.

The girl was “parentless,” according to the ruling, and “lives with a relative but has an appointed guardian.” In her petition, the teen said that her “guardian is fine with what [she] wants to do.”

And while would have been permitted to have an abortion had her guardian submitted a written waiver, the details as to why she did not involve her guardian were not revealed in the court’s decision.

16-Year-Old Denied Abortion, Florida Court Ruled She's Not 'Mature' Enough To Terminate
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The 16-year-old “inexplicably” checked a box on her petition waiving the appointment of an attorney, per the ruling, but was accompanied to her hearing in Escambia County Circuit Court by a case worker and child advocate.

The appeals court ruling affirmed the denial of the teen’s petition by Circuit Judge Jennifer J. Frydrychowicz who believed the teen was “credible,” “open,” and “non-evasive,” and “showed, at times, that she is stable and mature enough to make this decision,” according to a transcript described in the appeals court ruling.

The ruling also celebrated Frydrychowicz for showing “concern for the minor’s predicament” and asking questions in a “compassionate manner.”

“[The teen] had done Google searches and reviewed a pamphlet (that she and a family member got from their visit to a medical clinic) to gain an understanding about her medical options and their consequences,” the appeals court ruling says. “The trial court noted that the minor acknowledges she is not ready for the emotional, physical, or financial responsibility of raising a child’ and ‘has valid concerns about her ability to raise a child.'”

16-Year-Old Denied Abortion, Florida Court Ruled She's Not 'Mature' Enough To Terminate
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While Frydrychowicz ultimately denied the teen’s petition, she admitted to seeing the matter “as a very close call,” and said the court would be allowed to reevaluate the decision “at a later date.”

“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,” Monday’s ruling states.

However, since abortion is legal in Florida only until the 15-week point, that “additional time” may be running out as the teen was 10 weeks pregnant at the time of the county court hearing.

Florida is one of 36 states that requires one or both of a minor’s parents to be involved in their decision to have an abortion, per the Guttmacher Institute.

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