Florida Court Tries to Block 13-year-old Girl’s Abortion

The Florida Department of Children and Families (FDCF) went to court last week in West Palm Beach to intervene in the planned abortion of a 13-year-old ward of the state. The girl, known as L.G., learned of her pregnancy two weeks ago, and intended to undergo the abortion last Tuesday, according to Palm Beach Post.

The Palm Beach Post reports that L.G. notified her caseworker of her pregnancy and her desire for an abortion, and that the FDCF requested a judge’s ruling the same day, claiming that L.G. was too young and immature to make an informed medical decision. Judge Alvarez agreed to delay the abortion until L.G. has undergone a psychiatric evaluation and the court can determine the risks of pregnancy or abortion, says the Post. Florida law allows 13-year-olds to consent to abortions without parental notification or consent. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Legal Aid Society have appealed the ruling, saying that FDCF and the court overstepped their bounds by intervening in this instance, according to the Post.

“I don’t think I should have the baby because I’m 13, I’m in a shelter, and I can’t get a job,” L.G. said during her court hearing on Thursday, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Dr. Ethelene Johnes, an expert in obstetrics and gynecology, testified that “At her age and at her state of gestationÉ her risk of death from an abortion procedure is about 1 in 34,000. The risk of death in pregnancy is 1 in 10,000,” according to the Sun-Sentinel. The risk of an abortion, however, will increase as the court order forces L.G. to delay the procedure into her third month of pregnancy.

Howard Simon, the ACLU’s executive director in Florida, told the Associated Press that “forcing a 13-year-old to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, against her wishes, is not only illegal and unconstitutional, it is cruel.” The appeal has been fast-tracked to appear before the Fourth District Court of Appeals.

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BBC News 4/30/05, Los Angeles Times 4/28/05, Palm Beach Post 4/28/05, South Florida Sun-Sentinel 4/30/05

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