Court Says Nebraska Teen Not Mature Enough for Abortion, Must Have Child
A complicated case in Nebraska is sparking new conversations about consent and abortion. A teenage girl, called only Anonymous 5 in court documents, has been ordered to carry her child to term because she was not deemed mature enough to get an abortion, reports Slate. Under a new Nebraska law, girls under age 17 have to receive signed and notarized permission from a legal guardian to have an abortion. The girl is in foster care because she’d been taken from her physically abusive parents.
Anonymous 5 revealed her desire to have an abortion in the same hearing that removed her from her parents’ home. Anonymous 5 told district judge Peter C. Bataillon she was concerned she didn’t have the financial resources to raise and child or the ability to be “the right mom that I would like to be right now”. As a ward of the state, she has no one to give her permission to have an abortion and she isn’t allowed to make the decision herself. She does have foster parents but because they’re very religious, she’s afraid they’ll kick her out of their home. Either way, it’s unclear under Nebraska’s new law would allow foster parents to give consent (Nebraska is one of eight states that requires girls to have written, notarized consent for an abortion).
Under the law, a girl under 17 can only make the decision to have an abortion if there is “clear and convincing evidence” that “the minor is sufficiently mature and well-informed”. To see how well-informed she was, Judge Bataillon asked if the teen understood “when you have the abortion, it’s going to kill the child inside of you.” Judge Bataillon is sending her back to her foster parents with the idea that “just because her foster parents have strongly held religious beliefs, does not mean that they will not act in the Petitioner’s best interest.” But it doesn’t mean they will, either.
This judge has served on the board of a Nebreska anti-abortion group, meaning Anonymous 5 never stood a chance. We can all agree that teenagers should do everything to do to not have to make this choice at such a young age, but the truth is, these things happen. They happen to individuals who have to live with their life choices and should be able to make the choices they have to live with. Court documents state Anonymous 5 is not “sufficiently mature and well-informed” even after acknowledging she’d been to six abortion counseling sessions. That doesn’t sound like someone who doesn’t know how things work. This girl had to grow up a lot faster than she should have and she’s shown maturity in thinking about the outcomes. But her thoughts and feelings aren’t enough so it’s up to the state or the foster parents who have the power to stop caring for her.