Should This 16 Year-Old Have to Have a Baby?
Does anything about this seem odd to you guys? A court in Nebraska has denied a 16 year-old girl the right to abort her pregnancy, because she's not "mature" enough to make the decision to do so—but because apparently, she is mature enough to have a baby before she feels ready to do so. Which makes sense... well, to someone, somewhere, we guess. (Maybe on a far-away planet where pregnancy only lasts five minutes and babies are as easy to take care of as goldfish.)
The girl, who has been living in foster care since 2011 after being removed from the custody of her abusive parents, was seeking an abortion of her first-trimester pregnancy—but as a ward of a state where minors can't get an abortion without parental consent, she had to ask the government's permission to obtain the procedure. Appearing before a family court judge, she explained that her age and lack of financial resources would prevent her from being a good mother, and that she feared she would be kicked out of her foster home if her foster parents knew that she was pregnant; she also cited concerns that they would sabotage her relationship with her younger siblings by telling them that she was a "bad person."
Unfortunately for her, the judge hearing her petition was a former anti-abortion activist (who proooobably should have recused himself from the case, considering that his strong personal feelings about the issue made it unlikely that he could deliver an impartial judgment), and his ruling that the girl lacked the maturity to have the procedure was upheld by Nebraska's Supreme Court.
Needless to say, this is a touchy subject that many people feel strongly about. But although abortion is a difficult topic and the subject of ongoing debate, it's also a legal, and common, medical procedure—in the U.S., three out of every 10 women will have one within her lifetime. And if she'd been just a year older, this girl could have terminated her pregnancy legally without needing anyone's consent.
To us, a 16 year-old who's resourceful enough to petition the court for her right to abort, and to make a compelling argument that she's neither emotionally ready nor financially able to care for a child, has certainly demonstrated that she's got the maturity and judgment to make her own medical decisions—and it seems a little Orwellian that the government can essentially force a girl to have a baby she doesn't want. But what do you think? Are parental consent laws a good idea, or do they make things even harder for girls who are already vulnerable? Should girls who don't have caring, responsible parents have their rights decided by judges who don't know them? Can a teenager be too immature to have an abortion, but mature enough to have a baby?