by Steven Ertelt
November 5, 2007
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — A Florida state appeals court has reversed the ruling of a local judge who ruled against a teenager’s request for a judicial bypass to get around telling her parents of her plans to have an abortion. The ruling brings up the problem of courts rubber stamping judicial bypass requests in cases not cover by the state’s parental involvement law.
In this case, a 17-year-old girl who wanted an abortion without telling her parents can have one now that the Fourth District Court of Appeal has sided with her attorneys.
The name and location of the girl in question is kept private by the courts but the appeals court covers the Treasure Coast part of the state, including Palm Beach and Broward counties.
This is the first time the appeals court has consider an abortion bypass case, but it brings up an old issue that worries pro-life and lawmakers.
Since the law went into effect in 2005, after 65 percent of state residents voted for it, there have been hundreds of requests for the judicial bypass. Though judges are only supposed to grant it in cases when teens are victims of parental abuse, minors are routinely approved for secret abortions without their parents’ knowledge.
In this case, the girl in question is four months pregnant by her fiance but has not told her parents because they have pro-life religious views. However, she did tell her fiancee’s parents, who suggested she have an abortion. Thinking she didn’t have the financial resources to raise the baby, the teen decided to have an abortion.
Circuit Judge Barbara Bronis denied the request and said the girl never visited a doctor to check on her pregnancy and should have consulted her parents instead of her partner’s.
The appeals court disagreed and said the teen is in a committed relationship with a man she intends to marry and understands the religious and moral aspects to her decision.
Attorney Melissa Duncan of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, represented the girl in her appeal but said she had no legal representation during the hearing before the judge.
State law doesn’t detail how far along in the pregnancy a girl can be to still qualify for a judicial bypass for the abortion. That could be an issue pro-life lawmakers take up to tighten the law.
In the teen’s part of the state, 44 petitions have been filed for judicial bypasses and 36 of them have been granted.