WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A judge has ruled that a 13-year-old girl at the center of an abortion fight with the state may terminate her pregnancy, and Gov. Jeb Bush said Tuesday that the state will not appeal further.
Juvenile Judge Ronald Alvarez ruled Monday that the teen, who has been in state custody for four years, would not be physically or emotionally harmed by the procedure. Last week, Alvarez blocked the girl’s abortion until a psychological evaluation was completed.
“He ruled that she is competent, that she has made a decision and that she has a right to act on that decision,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the girl.
It was unclear Tuesday whether the girl, 14 weeks pregnant and known only as L.G. in court papers, had yet undergone an abortion. Calls to the girl’s attorneys seeking an update were not immediately returned.
State Department of Children & Families spokeswoman Marilyn Munoz said the agency would “respectfully comply with the court’s decision.” She declined to provide further details.
“We are working for the best interest of the young girl,” Munoz said.
The teen became pregnant after running away from the DCF shelter where she lives.
“It’s a tragedy that a 13-year-old girl would be in a vulnerable position where she could be made pregnant and it’s a tragedy that her baby will be lost,” Bush said in Tallahassee.
The department had argued that the girl was too young and immature to decide for herself to have an abortion. The agency said state law prohibited the agency from consenting to the procedure.
The girl told the judge last week as part of the psychological evaluation process that she wanted an abortion, citing her age and no way to support a baby. The girl’s ACLU attorneys argued that Florida law protects a minor’s right to choose an abortion.
A measure is moving through the state Legislature to require notification of parents or guardians when girls seek abortion. In 2003, the Florida Supreme Court struck down a 1999 law requiring parents to be notified if their minor daughters seek an abortion.
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