Friday, April 29, 2005

God Bless the Child

From the Sun-Sentinel:

Pregnant and living in a shelter, a 13-year-old Palm Beach County girl is snared in a court fight of national scope after the state’s social services agency blocked her attempt to have an abortion.

The legal and political wrangling surrounding the girl intensified Thursday as legislators and advocates weighed in on the case in light of state and federal efforts to pass a parental notification law that would apply to pregnant teens.

State law allows minors to have abortions without notifying their guardians. Experts say the law extends to wards of the state, raising the question of why this girl’s decision has ended up before a judge.

Identified in court records simply as L.G., the girl’s plans to end her 131/2-week pregnancy were thwarted when her guardian, the state Department of Children & Families, filed an emergency motion in Juvenile Court to prevent the abortion. The American Civil Liberties Union, represented by attorney James K. Green, filed an emergency appeal Wednesday arguing that neither the court nor DCF should be involved in L.G.’s decision.


Stephanie Grutman, executive director of the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said that L.G. will enter her second trimester in a few days, making an abortion slightly more risky and sharply reducing the number of providers in Florida willing to perform the procedure.

“This teen did exactly what she was supposed to do when faced with an unexpected pregnancy,” Grutman said. “She went to a trusted adult … and a healthcare center, got the information she needed and made a responsible decision for her life … Now we have bureaucrats playing politics with a young woman’s life. We’re in a situation where every moment counts.”

Given DCF’s miserable record over the last four years — losing children, putting them in homes of serial abusers, and hiring Jerry Reiger, an advocate of corporal punishment on a biblical scale, as the head of the agency — the State of Florida once again proves that it cares deeply about children…until they’re born.