The state of Florida is once again in the news with an object lesson in how the so-called “Culture of Life” makes agonizing personal situations that much more painful by attempting to strip the already marginalized of whatever power they may have over their lives:
After first resisting a judge’s order to allow a 13-year-old in state custody to get an abortion, Gov. Jeb Bush’s administration changed course today and said it would abandon the legal fight. The reversal came a week after state lawyers sought an emergency injunction in Palm Beach County Circuit Court to stop the girl, identified as L. G., from having an abortion later that day. Judge Ronald Alvarez agreed to delay the procedure while he weighed the case, but ruled Monday that the girl was competent to make decisions about her pregnancy and free to do so under the state’s Constitution…The girl is about 14 weeks pregnant and had planned to undergo the procedure last Tuesday, the day that the state stepped in and said she was too young to make such a decision. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County are representing the girl, who became pregnant after she ran away from a state home in January. She told her caseworker that she wanted an abortion last month, according to court records. The caseworker, who works for a private nonprofit agency that contracts with the state, helped her schedule an abortion. In seeking to block the abortion, the Department of Children and Families cited a state law that forbids the agency to consent to “sterilization, abortion or termination of life support.” “The Department of Children and Families has the custodial responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the child,” the agency said in a statement, “as state law requires.”…Gov. Jeb Bush, who opposes abortion, unsuccessfully asked the courts in 2003 to appoint a guardian for the fetus of a severely disabled woman who had been raped in a group home.
The children’s agency has come under heavy criticism in recent years for losing track of those in its care. In a hearing last week, Judge Alvarez said he was angry that the state had not done more to prevent L. G.’s pregnancy in the first place. “Where are our priorities in life?” he said, according to The Associated Press. Karen Gievers, a lawyer in Tallahassee who has sued the state on behalf of foster children, questioned why the state had not found an adoptive home for L. G. and why it would spend resources fighting her abortion when it had so many urgent priorities. Typically, Ms. Gievers said, the state might put up “passive resistance” – for example, by refusing to transport a foster child to an abortion clinic. But she and other advocates said that to their knowledge, this was the first time Florida actively tried to keep a minor in its custody from having an abortion.