by Maria Vitale Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
April 28, 2005
Orlando, FL (LifeNews.com) — The American Civil Liberties Union is appealing a ruling which would block a Florida teenager from having an abortion. The organization, which supports legal abortion, is asking a judge to overturn a decision that would prevent a 13-year-old ward of the state from undergoing an abortion.
The teenager, named L.G. in court documents, learned she was pregnant two weeks ago. She planned to have the abortion Tuesday.
However, the Florida Department of Children and Families asked a Palm Beach County juvenile judge to block the abortion. Department officials argued that L.G., who is 13 ½ weeks pregnant, was too young and immature to make an informed medical decision.
A judge agreed to grant a temporary injunction to prevent the abortion and ordered a psychological evaluation of L.G.
The ACLU appeal claimed, “DCF and the circuit court have instituted a process whereby the state will make a decision for L.G. based upon its own evaluation of her best interest. This it cannot do.”
A spokeswoman for DCF, Marilyn Munoz, has said that state law bars the department from consenting to an abortion for a minor in any instance.
“If a child in our care requests to have any procedure prohibited under Florida statute, we cannot give consent,” Munoz told the Associated Press. “It’s not our decision. We stand in different shoes. We’re held to a higher accountability.”
But the appeal argues that L.G. does not need consent from DCF to have the abortion.
“No DCF regulation or state law can override a constitutional right as recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court,” ACLU spokesman Howard Simon told the AP.
No information about the girl’s parents or background is available.
In the appeal, the ACLU contends, “There is nothing in the record to support the presumption that she cannot make an informed decision to have an abortion.”
The Florida Supreme Court struck down a 1999 parental notice law. Last year, legislators voted to change the constitution to make such a law possible. Voters approved the constitutional amendment in November. Lawmakers are now pushing legislation to require physicians to notify at least one parent before performing an abortion on a minor.
Parental involvement laws are an important way to safeguard the health of teenagers, according to Florida Right to Life.
“Parents need to know when someone performs surgery on their daughters,” Robin Hoffman of Florida Right to Life told LifeNews.com last year. “Teens have experienced serious complications and death from legal abortions in Florida. Evidence shows that after parental involvement laws are put in effect, the teenage pregnancy rate goes down, the teenage abortion rate goes down, and the teenage birthrate goes down.”
Rep. Jeffrey Kottkamp (R-Cape Coral) sponsored the parental notification legislation.
Commenting on the L.G. case, Kottkamp said, “Does this minor have a legal capacity to understand all the consequences? If she’s not old enough yet to decide if she should have a tattoo, or drive, or vote, how in the world is she old enough to make such an important decision on her own?”
Related web sites:
Florida Right to Life – https://www.frtl.org