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Tipsheet

Florida Teen Wins Appeal to Seek An Abortion Without Parental Consent

AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte

A teen in Tampa, Florida won an appeal in district court for the right to talk to a doctor and ultimately have a medical abortion without parental consent. 

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According to local outlet Fox 13 Tampa Bay, the teen knew that her parents would not give consent for her to obtain an abortion. She petitioned for a judicial bypass to access information regarding a medication abortion pill and the ability to have the pill administered if she decides to do so. Florida law requires teenages under age 18 to have parental consent to undergo a medical abortion and to have the pill administered.

The teen, “Jane Doe,” had her request denied by Judge Jared Smith over concerns that she was not forthcoming regarding her GPA. Upon appeal, Judge Darryl Casanueva wrote for the 2–1 majority that she “demonstrates that she possesses an ability to assess the consequences of her choice and the risk it entails.”

“Identified in court records as Jane Doe, the teen's original petition to the court for a judicial bypass was denied, in part, because she did not meet the judge's intellectual standards.

The teen's attorney, Rinky Parwani, explained to the court that the 17-year-old Tampa high school junior works, pays for things she wants and needs (outside basic necessities provided by her father and sole caregiver, according to court records), and that she wants an abortion because she isn't yet financially stable.

He says his client wants to enlist in the military before going to college and becoming a nurse.

‘That is huge for these ladies that petition the court for this,’ said Parwani. ‘They do have futures, they understand that having a child may limit those futures in different ways.’

When considering a judicial bypass, a judge is to consider seven factors regarding the petitioner, including ‘overall intelligence; emotional development and stability; credibility and demeanor as a witness; ability to accept responsibility; ability to assess both the immediate and long-range consequences of the minor’s choices; and ability to understand and explain the medical risks of terminating her pregnancy and to apply that understanding to her decision.’”
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Reportedly, Jane Doe told the court that she will gather information on an abortion procedure and if she follows through with it, her boyfriend will drive her to the clinic and his mother will pay for the procedure. She said if the procedure makes an emotional or physical impact, her boyfriend and his mother will help her through it.

"Any young teenage girl who is pregnant is already going through a huge emotional burden," Parwani told the court. "What is really fundamental in this decision is the court understood that she had resources available to her to make the right decision."

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