Overview:

A Florida court has ruled that a 16-year-old must continue their pregnancy, and has blocked access to abortion services.

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A Florida appellate court ruled that a pregnant 16-year-old was “not sufficiently mature” to access abortion services. The teen herself argued in her petition that she was “not ready to have a baby,” as she is still in school, does not have a job, and the father cannot assist her. 

Court records say that the teenager is “parentless” and state law requires minors to receive parental consent before getting an abortion. The teenager attempted to receive a judicial waiver to the law by petitioning the court. In Florida, the law states that a court must find that minors seeking such judicial waivers are “sufficiently mature” enough to get an abortion. The appellate court upheld an earlier ruling by a lower court after the teen had filed an appeal.

“The trial court found, based on the nonadversarial presentation below, that Appellant had not established by clear and convincing evidence that she was sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy. Having reviewed the record, we affirm the trial court’s decision,” the appellate court wrote.

Abortion access has become a major political topic throughout the country after the conservative Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe. Florida, like 35 other states, currently requires minors to have some sort of parental involvement in any decision to receive an abortion. Florida requires both parental consent and notification. 

The state laws governing how minors access abortion are likely to receive a new round of scrutiny after the fall of Roe. Teenagers under 20 are roughly 12% of the individuals who have abortions nationwide, this number is 4% for minors aged 17 or younger. Minors seeking abortion services may have to travel to states where abortion access is relaxed, as a number of red states look likely to continue to restrict access. 

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Marcus Johnson

Marcus Johnson is a political commentator and a political science Ph.D. candidate at American University. His primary research focus is the impact of political institutions on the racial wealth gap.