Nebraska Court Rules Teen Too Immature For Abortion

A 16-year-old girl was denied an abortion when the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld a ruling Friday that she was "not sufficiently mature" to make the decision to have one.

Nebraska law requires that girls 17 or younger must have written, notarized consent from a parent or guardian in order to have an abortion. In this case, the teenager, identified only as "Anonymous 5," is in foster care, but did not want to involve her foster parents out of fear that they would be so angry about her pregnancy that she could lose her placement at their home, according court documents.

A girl can bypass the consent provision in certain cases. Minors do not need parental permission in cases of medical emergencies, if they are victims of abuse, or if they can prove they are mature and well-informed enough to make the decision alone.

When she initially went before Judge Peter Bataillon in July, he ruled that she did not provide evidence she was a victim of abuse, and also "failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that she is sufficiently mature and well informed."

However, as Slate points out, Anonymous 5 showed some pretty mature reasoning at her appeal last week.

According to court documents, she testified that she could not "be the right mom that [she] would like to be right now" and could not support a child financially. She also feared her foster parents would likely take out their anger not only on her, but on her child.

Finally, she pointed out that putting the baby up for adoption "would be worse" for her and her two siblings because of the resentment her foster parents would have towards her. The siblings, ages 7 and 9, are under the care of the same couple.

The girl's attorney, Catherine Mahern, declined to tell whether or not the girl, who was 10 weeks pregnant at her first hearing in July, is still pregnant. Mahern did note that there are other ways to circumvent the parental consent law, including traveling to another state.

Nebraska is one of eight states that require notarized consent for a minor to obtain an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Thirty-nine states require at least some level of parental involvement.



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