by Steven Ertelt
May 4, 2005
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — A Florida judge reversed himself on whether or not a 13 year-old in state custody can have an abortion. State officials considered appealing the decision and said the abortion was not in the best interest of the Palm Beach County teen.
Palm Beach Circuit Judge Ronald Alvarez temporarily blocked the abortion last week, but ruled on Monday that the teenager can have the abortion.
Officials with the Florida Department of Children and Families, which has custody of the teen, identified only by her initials L.G., previously said state law prevents them from authorizing the abortion.
In a statement Monday, DCF spokeswoman Marilyn Munoz pointed to state statute saying, ”In no case shall the department consent to sterilization, abortion or termination of life support.”
"The DCF has the custodial responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the child, as state law requires," Munoz added in an interview with the Post newspaper.
However, Governor Jeb Bush, on Tuesday, said the state would abide by the judge’s decision and Munoz added that the state "would respectfully comply with the court’s decision."
"It’s a tragedy that a 13-year-old girl would be in a vulnerable position where she could be made pregnant and it’s a tragedy that her baby will be lost,” Bush added, according to an AP report.
Abortion advocates who want the teenager to have the abortion did not want the state to appeal Judge Alvarez’s ruling.
”Judge Alvarez did issue an order saying she is competent,” Howard Simon, an ACLU attorney who represents the girl, told the Palm Beach Post newspaper. "She has made a decision. She has a right to exercise that decision. And, acting on her decision is in her best interests.”
There was no word on whether the teenager has gone through with the decision, but ACLU attorney James Green told the Associated Press, "the case is over."
The teen has been in the foster care system for five years and her parents no longer have any legal parental rights. She ran away from the state home in January, one of several recent attempts to run away. She became pregnant during her time away from the home.
L.G. found out she was pregnant two weeks ago and she told her foster care caseworkers she wanted an abortion. DCF attorneys stepped in and asked Judge Alvarez to block the request.
Last week, Judge Alvarez ruled in favor of stopping the abortion in order to obtain more testimony to determine whether the teen was competent to make the abortion decision on her own. The ACLU appealed that decision to a Florida appeals court.
However, Alvarez changed his mind before that appeal moved forward.