Tampa Teen Wins Right for Abortion Med Info Without Parental Consent

Tampa Teen Wins Right for Abortion Med Info Without Parental Consent Tampa Teen Wins Right for Abortion Med Info Without Parental Consent Rep. Dianne Hart, D-Tampa, an opponent of the SB 404, known as the "parental consent" bill, speaks at the Florida Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP/Aileen Perilla)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Tuesday, 01 February 2022 09:31 AM

A 17-year-old Tampa high school junior has won an appeal allowing her to obtain information about a medically induced abortion without parental consent and potentially be administered the pill if she chooses to terminate her pregnancy.

The teenager, identified in court records as "Jane Doe," petitioned the court for a judicial bypass that would allow her to get information about the medication, and potentially the ability to use it, on claims that her parents would not give their consent, reports Fox 13 in Tampa.

Her initial petition was denied after a judge said she did not meet the intellectual standards needed to make a decision.

Rinky Parwani, the teen's attorney, had explained that her client has a job and pays for things she needs and wants beyond the basic necessities her father, who is her sole caregiver, provides for her. He added that his client wants an abortion because she is not financially stable enough to have a child.

He also said the teen wants to join the military before going to college to become a nurse.

"That is huge for these ladies that petition the court for this," Parwani said. "They do have futures [and] they understand that having a child may limit those futures in different ways."

However, the teen's initial petition was denied after a local judge, Jared Smith, cited concerns that she wasn't forthcoming about her school grades.

A judge, when considering a judicial bypass, is to examine a subject's "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; and ability to understand and explain the medical risks of terminating her pregnancy and to apply that understanding to her decision," according to state law.

But Smith found that her intelligence was "less than average" because she testified that she is a "B" student, but her grade point average is currently a 2.0, or a C average.

"Petitioner's testimony evinces either a lack of intelligence or credibility, either of which weighs against a finding of maturity pursuant to the statute," he ruled.

Judge Darryl Casanueva, writing for the 2-1 majority in the appeal, however, wrote that the teen's testimony "demonstrates that she possesses an ability to assess the consequences of her choice and the risk it entails, as well as the intention to reassess her decision after consultation with her physician."

Parental consent has been required in Florida for teen abortions since 2020 unless a judicial bypass is granted.

Tampa's "Jane Doe" testified that she plans to get the information on the medical abortion, and if she decides to have the abortion, her boyfriend will drive her to the clinic and his mother will pay for her procedure.

She added that her boyfriend, his mother, and a friend will help her deal with any physical or mental impacts she could have after the abortion.

Parwani said that it was fundamental in the appeal decision to show that the girl has such resources available to her.