If you’re a reasonable person living on planet Earth, there’s probably rarely been a day over the last several years in which conservatives haven’t made you want to scream. And unfortunately, today will not provide a reprieve from the madness.
On Tuesday, NBC News reported that a Florida appeals court recently ruled that a 16-year-old with no parents, job, or partner is not “sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy,” and thus should be forced to create and raise a human being, which she apparently is mature enough to do. The ruling upheld a previous decision by Circuit Judge Jennifer Frydrychowicz, a registered Republican, who blocked the girl, referred to as Jane Doe 22-B in court papers, from receiving the procedure without the consent of a parent or guardian. In their ruling this week, judges Harvey Jay, Rachel Nordby, and Scott Makar claimed that the teen “had not established by clear and convincing evidence that she was sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy. Having reviewed the record,” the trio added, “we affirm the trial court’s decision under the deferential standard of appellate review set out [in the consent law].” In her petition to obtain an abortion, the teen wrote that she “is not ready to have a baby,” doesn’t have a job, is “still in school,” and that the father is unable to assist her.
It should go without saying, even though it apparently needs to be said, that it’s completely fucking insane to declare that someone is not mature enough to make the decision to end a pregnancy, but is grown-up enough to go through the mentally and physically taxing work of growing and giving birth to a child as well as the lifelong, never-ending work of raising one. Republicans, of course, don’t actually care about what being pregnant entails, seeing women as mere reproductive vessels, and they definitely don’t give a shit about children once they’re born. On a somewhat tangential note, we’d also argue that knowing one is not ready to have a kid is actually a clear sign of maturity, setting aside the fact that just not wanting one should be reason enough.
While the appeals court decision was partially unanimous, Makar, dissenting from his colleagues in part, said the case should go back to Frydrychowicz for further consideration. “The trial judge apparently sees this matter as a very close call, finding that the minor was ‘credible,’ ‘open’ with the judge, and nonevasive,” Makar wrote. “The trial judge must have been contemplating that the minor—who was 10 weeks pregnant at the time—would potentially be returning before long—given the statutory time constraints at play—to shore up any lingering doubt the trial court harbored.” Makar noted that the teen “is pursuing a GED with involvement in a program designed to assist young women who have experienced trauma in their lives by providing educational support and counseling,” and “experienced renewed trauma (the death of a friend) shortly before she decided to seek termination of her pregnancy.” Apparently, the extreme trauma that could result from being forced to give birth was of little import to the other judges.
Not surprisingly, people who aren’t onboard for the dystopian hellscape Republicans want us all to live in were outraged. “A Florida court is blocking a 16-year-old from having an abortion because it says she’s not ‘mature’ enough to make that decision. But she’s mature enough to raise a child instead?” Congresswoman Diana DeGette tweeted. “This is outrageous. And it’s why we must stop this extreme GOP agenda immediately!” Florida Senate minority leader Lauren Book said it was “unconscionable” to sentence the girl “to continue an unwanted pregnancy after she stated she was not ready to have a baby, was pursuing her education, didn’t have a job, and the father was unable to assist her,” adding: “I truly cannot fathom the court’s justification for finding this brave young woman ‘not sufficiently mature’ to choose what is best for herself, her body, and her future aside from pure political will or inability to separate church and state.”