Appeals court upholds judge’s decision that minor is not ‘sufficiently mature’ to have abortion without parental consent

By Dave Andrusko

Last Friday a Florida state appeals court handed down a decision that delighted pro-lifers.

According to Jim Saunders, reporting for the News Service of Florida

A state appeals court Friday upheld a Calhoun County circuit judge’s ruling that blocked a minor from having an abortion without notification and consent of a parent or guardian.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal did not detail the circumstances of the case, including the age of the minor, who was identified by the pseudonym Jane Doe.

In 2004, Florida voters “approved a constitutional amendment that cleared the way for the Legislature to pass a law requiring that parents or guardians be notified before minors have abortions” Saunders explained. “Lawmakers in 2020 added to that with the consent requirement.”

Saunders reported that the appeals court accepted the reasoning of Circuit Judge Brandon Young, the trial judge, who found the minor “failed to demonstrate sufficient maturity” to receive a waiver of the notification and consent requirement, according to the appeals court.

“National Right to Life is grateful that instead of rubber stamping approval for a minor’s abortion, the judges ruled in favor of parental rights,” Ingrid Duran, NRLC’s Director of State Legislation. “It is our hope that now with the parents involved, they can help make a life affirming decision that will benefit their minor daughter and her preborn baby.”

Decision explained

Judges Rachel Nordby, Robert Long, and M. Kemmerly Thomas wrote “In a detailed order, the circuit court [Judge Young] determined, based on the non-adversarial presentation below, that Doe had not established by clear and convincing evidence that she was sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy.”

In her concurring opinion, Judge Thomas “indicated the case included an issue about appointing a guardian for the minor,” Saunder wrote. “She wrote that the notice-and-consent waiver process is limited.”

“It only asks whether the minor has demonstrated sufficient maturity to obtain an abortion without the knowledge and consent of her parents or legal guardian,” Thomas wrote. “It is not the process by which a family member is appointed to act as the minor’s legal guardian. To the extent that Doe and her loved ones wish to obtain a court order appointing a family member as Doe’s legal guardian, they can file a guardianship petition with the circuit court. The record is devoid of any evidence that emergency legal action was taken to acquire temporary or permanent legal guardianship designation.”