Nebraska court: Girl, 16, not mature enough to decide on abortion

Oct. 9, 2013 at 3:37 PM
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LINCOLN, Neb., Oct. 9 (UPI) -- The Nebraska Supreme Court says a 16-year-old cannot have an abortion because she has no legal parents and is not mature enough to decide for herself.

The girl is living with foster parents. She became a ward of the state in May, the same month that she asked a judge to allow her to bypass Nebraska's parental consent law and allow her to end the pregnancy, ABC News reported.

Her father was convicted last year of physically assaulting her. Court documents say her mother has a drug problem and the parental rights of both have been terminated.

Catherine Mahern, the teen's lawyer, said her client is stuck because Nebraska law requires written consent from a parent or legal guardian -- not a foster parent -- for abortions for those less than 18. But in her client's case her guardian is the state, which has a policy of neither consenting nor objecting to abortions for its wards.

The high court upheld lower court rulings denying the abortion.

Justice William Connolly, in a dissenting opinion released Friday, said the teen is in "a legal limbo, a quandary of the Legislature's making."

In the majority opinion, the court said the girl has never lived on her own and remains financially dependent on her foster parents. They said that suggests she does not have the maturity to decide to terminate a pregnancy.

Mahern pointed out that the circumstances mean the girl will have to either function as a mother or decide to give up the baby.

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