Florida Judge tried to deny teen abortion because of her high school grades

·3 min read

A judge in Florida tried to stop a 17-year-old high school student from getting an abortion because he thought her grades were too low.

However, the 17-year-old, known as “Jane Doe” in court papers, successfully appealed the circuit judge’s ruling this week.

In a 2-1 ruling in the Florida Second District Court of Appeal, the panel of judges found that Ms Doe was mature enough to earn what’s known as a “judicial bypass” – an arduous legal process that lets minors get abortions without involving their parents.

Vice reports that in the original ruling, Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Jared Smith noted that Ms Doe had originally said she made “B” grades, but her current grade point average is 2.0.

“Clearly, a ‘B’ average would not equate to a 2.0 GPA,” Mr Smith wrote. He continued, Doe’s “testimony evinces either a lack of intelligence or credibility, either of which weigh against a finding of maturity pursuant to the statute”.

However, a ruling written by Judge Darryl Casanueva and joined by Judge Susan Rothstein-Youakim pointed out that if Ms Doe is obtaining B-grades, then her current GPA may not reflect her newer grades.

In addition, “we observe a ‘C’ average demonstrates average intelligence for a high school student,” Mr Casanueva wrote. “The evidence certainly did not show that her overall intelligence was ‘less than average’.”

The appeals court ruling dismissed Judge Smith’s other arguments as to why the 17-year-old should not get an abortion.

Mr Smith said that Ms Doe does not care for any younger family members to evaluate her emotional stability. Mr Casanueva pointed out that Ms Doe doesn’t have younger siblings.

The Hillsborough County judge also said that Ms Doe “has never had any financial responsibilities, even so much as paying her own cellphone bills”.

However, Mr Casanueva noted that the teenager works for more than 20 hours a week, has $1,600 in savings and two credit cards, and pays for almost everything with the exception of the cellphone bills.

In a 22-page ruling, Mr Casanueva wrote that Ms Doe’s “testimony demonstrates that she possesses an ability to assess the consequences of her choice and the risk it entails”.

Ms Doe said she wanted an abortion because “she is not yet financially stable and that she wants to be able to be on her own first”, per Mr Casanueva’s ruling and that she ultimately wants to go into the military, then go to college and become a nurse.

Although Ms Doe’s boyfriend and his mother support her decision to end the pregnancy, she said that her parents would try to convince her to carry the pregnancy to term if they found out.

Some 38 states require parents to be notified if a minor wants an abortion, and in Florida a parent must also give consent. However, most of these states also offer judicial bypass routes for minors.

The one dissenting justice on Ms Doe’s appeal was Judge John Stargel who is married to State Senator Kelli Stargel who introduced a bill to ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

In an email to Florida media outlet The Ledger, Senator Stargel said that while she and her husband share many values, their official activities are separate.

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