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Too immature for an abortion, but not for motherhood

Nebraska's state Supreme Court justices
Nebraska's state Supreme Court justices

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled last week that a 16-year-old foster child who wishes to terminate a pregnancy cannot have an abortion. The problem, the court majority ruled, is that the girl is "not sufficiently mature" enough to make an informed decision about abortion.

She is, however, apparently "sufficiently mature" to become a mother. Katy Waldman's report on this summarized the case very well.

The teenager, identified in the court ruling as Anonymous 5, showed evidence of mature reasoning at a confidential hearing. She worried that she didn’t have the financial resources to support a child or to be “the right mom that I would like to be right now.” Yet district judge Peter C. Bataillon, whom the Raw Story reports once served on the committee for an Omaha anti-abortion group, disagreed, and the Supreme Court upheld his ruling in a split vote of 5-2.

How does something like this happen? Nebraska is one of eight states that require girls 17 or younger to obtain written, notarized consent from a parent or guardian before undergoing an abortion.... Since Anonymous 5 is a ward of the State Department of Health and Human Services—she actually requested the abortion at the confidential hearing dissolving the parental rights of her biological mother and father, who were physically abusive—she doesn’t have anyone to grant her consent. “She is in legal limbo—a quandary of the Legislature's making,” wrote Judge William Connolly in his Supreme Court minority opinion.

The abused teenager did not want to get her foster parents involved -- they're reportedly deeply religious, and she risked losing her home if they found out about her pregnancy -- and couldn't turn to her birth parents. So she was forced to turn to a Nebraska judge who, you guessed it, opposes reproductive rights and told Anonymous 5 she's trying to "kill the child inside of you."

From a distance, it seems the 16-year-old foster child is pretty much the only one involved in this mess who has acted with sufficient maturity.