Court Rules Teen Not Mature Enough to Abort, Mature Enough to Be Mom

Illustration for article titled Court Rules Teen Not Mature Enough to Abort, Mature Enough to Be Mom

Last Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court denied a 16-year-old foster child's request to get an abortion without parental consent. The teen, identified only as Anonymous 5, was deemed not mature enough to make the decision herself. So then she's mature enough to raise a child? Okay, sure. Whatever you say, Nebraska.

According to Slate:

The teenager, identified in the court ruling as Anonymous 5, showed evidence of mature reasoning at a confidential hearing. She worried that she didn’t have the financial resources to support a child or to be “the right mom that I would like to be right now.” Yet district judge Peter C. Bataillon, whom the Raw Story reports once served on the committee for an Omaha anti-abortion group, disagreed, and the Supreme Court upheld his ruling in a split vote of 5-2.

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Just to back up a second — Bataillon asked the teen whether she knew that “When you have the abortion, it’s going to kill the child inside of you," before issuing his surely impartial ruling.

The high court ruling was the first involving Nebraska's new parental consent law, which was passed last year and requires girls 17 and under to obtain written, notarized consent of a parent or guardian for an abortion.

The teen, who was removed from her parents two years ago due to physical abuse and neglect, had nowhere to turn for help. Since her parents lost their parental rights earlier this year — and because, according to the teenager, her foster parents "held strong religious beliefs" — her rights are in the hands of a court in a state that just created a law that requires people 17 and under to obtain written, notarized consent of a parent or guardian for an abortion.

However, there is this bit of, well, good-ish news:

Catherine Mahern, the attorney representing the girl, said her client went before Douglas County District Judge Peter Bataillon in July. At the time, the girl was 10 weeks pregnant.

Mahern declined to say whether the girl is still pregnant, three months later. “It is not in my client's best interests to comment,” she said.

She noted there are ways for a minor to bypass parental consent other than through the courts. Among them is going to another state, she said.

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Let's all hope the teen was able to get the help she needed in making a decision that affects only her body and her life.

[Omaha.com, Slate]

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DISCUSSION

DigitallyCrazy
DigitallyCrazy

I have to comment, it sounds to me like this is mischaracterizing the point of the law. If you follow through on your argument, for instance, that she's not mature enough to raise a child - then should children be forced to have abortions if they aren't deemed mature enough? Should their babies be removed from them against their wishes?

I think this is the real point of minority laws: children under a certain age aren't allowed to make certain decisions for themselves because they lack the maturity and life experience to make those choices. They're not allowed to drink (theoretically - in practice, well, that might be another story...), drive, smoke (again, theoretically...), etc. It falls to the parents to make that decision. And just because children are physically capable of having children doesn't mean they are or aren't capable of raising them. That decision then falls to their parents/legal guardians. And minority emancipation is the legal recourse to escape that legal guardianship relationship - so we already have an answer when parents or guardians aren't fulfilling their duties appropriately.

It's obvious that Jezz (and many people here) are just going to disagree on what that age is. I would personally argue that the age should be younger than 17 - 14 maybe, 16, when you can drive a car? I don't know - it's fairly arbitrary and legally, you need a hard cutoff. But I don't think allowing children to pursue invasive medical procedures at any age simply because it's a politically/religiously charged issue is at all a good idea.