Florida Bill Wants A Judge To Determine If Teen Is 'Mature' Enough For Abortion

by Cassandra Stone
Image via Viviane Moos/Getty

This bill could have extremely adverse effects on minors, both medically and psychologically

A Florida bill is proposing that teenagers who don’t receive permission from their parent or guardian to get an abortion would then have to plead their case before a judge. The judge would then determine if the teenager in question was “mature” enough to have an abortion.

Somehow the bill doesn’t provide a solution for the bigger problem: if a teenager isn’t mature enough to endure an abortion, perhaps they’re not mature enough to have a child.

House Bill 1335, introduced earlier this month, seeks to amend Florida’s statute from being a notification state (which means the minor in need of an abortion would need notification of only one parent to do so) and change the statute to turn Florida into a notification and consent state instead.

Unfortunately, this bill looks like it could get passed into law. Earlier this week, the Florida House Health Quality Subcommittee approved the bill with 10 votes in favor to only four opposed. The bill now awaits a vote with the Judiciary Committee.

“Consent and notification” means that not only would a minor seeking an abortion have to notify their parent or legal guardian of their decision, but the doctor would have to obtain notarized, written consent before performing the procedure. Doctors who perform an abortion on a minor without parental consent would be charged with a third-degree felony.

Minors who don’t obtain consent from their parents or guardians would then go before a judge, who would then have to consider several factors before deciding whether the minor is “mature” enough to have an abortion:

  • Age
  • 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
  • Ability to understand and explain the medical risks of terminating her pregnancy and to apply that understanding to her decision

Every minor is different, as is every judge. The fact that a major decision such as this would be taken out of the hands of the young women involved is abhorrent, no matter their age. How can a judge determine these factors based on a single meeting? It’s ridiculous. And yet, legislators in Florida seem to favor this archaic idea.

“If that judge doesn’t deem you mature enough to have an abortion, that judge is deeming you mature enough to have a child, and that is daunting,” Kim Scott, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida, tells Newsweek. “This bill is only going to disproportionately disenfranchise the young people who are in dangerous situations.”

Many people are calling out the hypocrisy of a judge determining a minor’s “maturity” for abortion but not in having a child.

The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) stated that while legislation requiring parental consent for an abortion may intend to help minors, it actually has adverse effects — medically and pyschologically.

“Judicial bypass provisions do not ameliorate the risk and may delay access to safe and appropriate care, making it a later, more complicated procedure.”