April 30, 2005

"Too immature" to decide to have an abortion?

A state judge is preventing a 13-year-old girl from having an abortion, the theory being that she is "too immature" to make her own decision. Her immaturity, of course, also makes it especially burdensome for her to go through pregnancy and childbirth. But before getting too upset at the judge, consider this:
Florida's department of children and families intervened and took the matter to court, arguing the teenager, who is under the care of the state, is too young and immature to make an informed medical decision. Judge Ronald Alvarez in Palm Beach accepted that argument and has granted a temporary injunction and psychological evaluation, which effectively blocks her from terminating the pregnancy.
The girl may be afraid, pressured by others, without resources, unaware of options. Even if you think it is obvious that she had already made the best choice in seeking an abortion, the state is only intervening to impose counseling and advice and is only temporarily preventing the abortion.

But it's quite clear that "too immature" can't be the final call. What if she were 9? Immaturity may be a reason not to leave you to your own devices, but those who intervene cannot simply impose their choice on you. They must be legitimately helping you make a well-balanced, reasoned choice.

8 comments:

Abraham said...

Justics Kennedy made it abundantly clear in his majority opinion in Roper v. Simmons that as a matter of constitutional law, juveniles are never able to appreciate the seriousness and full gravity of their conduct, and should be treated the same as the mentally retarded.

Ann Althouse said...

Good point. I remember people making this connection back when Simmons came out.

dan said...

So... if she's too immature to make an informed medical decision to have an abortion, she must be mature enough to have a baby, right? What do you think the correct outcome is here? The state requires this girl to have her baby and then swoops in to put the kid into foster care or up for adoption?

Ann Althouse said...

Dan, I think it's completely unacceptable for the state to force her to have the child. The case at the moment, however, is about temporarily stopping her and counseling her, which is different.

mcg said...

Any suggestion that the default decision ought to be to abort or to deliver simply reflects the suggester's beliefs about abortion in general. The point is that she's too immature to do either of those things on her own.

The real tragedy here is the failure of her parents to care for her well before she ever became pregnant. The state is a poor substitute for a parent.

Ann Althouse said...

Mcg: It's always a tragedy of some kind when a girl this young gets pregnant. I agree with you that both defaults are wrong. Someone needs to care for the girl and the parents were not there for her, presumably, since she is already under the care of the state. The state is a poor substitute for a parent, but a lot of parents are a pretty poor excuse for a parent.

Cervus said...

There's something I need to point out. There's a Florida law for just this sort of occasion:

743.065 Unwed pregnant minor or minor mother; consent to medical services for minor or minor's child valid.--

(1) An unwed pregnant minor may consent to the performance of medical or surgical care or services relating to her pregnancy by a hospital or clinic or by a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459, and such consent is valid and binding as if she had achieved her majority.

Emphasis added.

Nick said...

I hate to go back to this old straw... but what about her parents? Why is the state deciding what she can and can't do? Her parents are unable to counsel her? If she has that child... she can't put it up for adoption?

I only ask because the article makes no mention. I suppose the parents are probably MIA if they Dept. of Children and Families is getting involved, but I have to wonder.