Judge Jared Smith—who made national headlines at the start of the year—has officially lost his seat on the Florida state bench. Why did he make headlines? Smith denied a teenager an abortion because she wasn’t mature enough by only making “B” grades. As of Tuesday night, voters think he should shove off.
In a low-turnout election, Nancy L. Jacobs beat Smith by nearly 8,000 votes. Florida judicial elections are non-partisan, meaning the judges aren’t registered under a party. Still, there was indication of a partisan divide in the outcome. Jacobs solidly won the mail-in vote, 63,226 to 48,702, a trend seen among Democratic-leaning voters. Smith only marginally won the day-of voting, typically a Republican-heavy voting day.
In Florida, teenagers need parental consent to get an abortion, but if they can’t get permission (danger, lack of support, etc.), there’s a procedure called judicial bypass. Minors go before a judge to ask permission for a waiver that allows them to have an abortion without parental involvement. Unfortunately, at least 36 states require parental involvement in this healthcare decision, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
The 17-year-old girl named “Jane Doe” (she’s a minor, remember) appeared in Smith’s Hillsborough County courtroom at the start of this year. In his initial ruling, Smith said the girl was inconsistent because at one point she said she was getting Bs but had a 2.0-grade point average. Smith wrote that her “testimony evinces either a lack of intelligence or credibility, either of which weighs against a finding of maturity pursuant to the statute.” According to the appellate findings, however, the girl didn’t purposefully inflate her grades. Two different adults just asked her slightly differently worded questions about her grades. “At worst, her testimony created an ambiguity that neither questioner explored,” the 2-1 decision reported.
Smith previously served five years in the position, with no telling how many young reproductive lives his rulings have affected. Smith’s term concludes at the end of the year.
Jacobs told media she looks forward to joining the state bench at the start of next year, “ensuring that the people of Hillsborough County who enter my courtroom are treated with respect, dignity, and integrity every day,” she said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
Until then, Smith has four months to attempt to deny minors the right to control their own bodies, regardless of their grades.