Tuesday, May 03, 2005

File this one Under Florid-Duh!

I'd like to meet the jack-ass judge that made this decision.

MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida dropped its fight on Tuesday to prevent a 13-year-old girl in state care from having an abortion in a case that marked the state's second recent foray into controversial personal rights issues.

Weeks after it unsuccessfully tried to intervene in the bitter dispute over the fate of a brain-damaged woman, Terri Schiavo, the state's Department of Children & Families said it would not appeal a ruling from a Palm Beach state court allowing the teenager to have an abortion.

"There will be no further appeals and we will respectfully comply with the court's decision," DCF District Manager Marilyn Munoz said in a written statement.

It was not immediately known if the girl, who is 14 weeks pregnant, had had the abortion.

The case stirred concerns among civil libertarians who argued the child had a constitutional right to decide to have an abortion under state law and condemned the Florida government's attempts to interfere in personal rights.

"You've got to be blind not to see a pattern here," said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. "The pattern is the state's hostility to the exercise of personal freedom ... when that personal freedom is not consistent with the prevailing ideology of the state government."

Florida's governor is Jeb Bush, President Bush's younger brother, who was active in trying to keep Schiavo alive and who has said he personally opposes abortion.

"It's a tragedy that a 13-year-old child would be in a vulnerable position where she could be made pregnant and it's a tragedy that her baby will be lost," Jeb Bush said on Tuesday. "There's no good news in this at all."

The child, identified in court only as L.G., is a ward of the state who became pregnant when she ran away from a state-licensed group home. Under Florida law, a 13-year-old cannot consent to sex, making her pregnancy the result of a statutory rape.


The Department of Children & Families, her legal guardian after her parents' rights were terminated, petitioned the courts to block an abortion, arguing she was not mature enough to make such a choice.

It cited a state statute that says: "In no case shall the department consent to sterilization, abortion or termination of life support."

Florida law, however, allows minors to choose to have abortions. Critics of the DCF action argued that the child's constitutional right overrode any conflicting state statute.

Here's the part I find most disturbing...

"The constitutional right belongs to the child, and it belongs to the child even if the parents object," said Mary Coombs, a family law professor at the University of Miami. "In this case, DCF didn't have any more right than the parents."

So exactly what rights do the partents have. I realize the girl was in state care, but we hare heading in a dangerous direction here folks.

The DCF legal effort marked the second time in recent weeks the state welfare agency had tried to intervene in a high-profile case involving personal rights issues.

It petitioned the courts to take custody of Terri Schiavo, the subject of a controversial right-to-die case in which her parents fought for years against attempts by her husband to remove her feeding tube and allow her to die.

Critics condemned attempts by Jeb Bush to intervene in a family dispute in which courts had repeatedly ruled in favor of Schiavo's husband Michael, who said he was carrying out his wife's wishes. Terri Schiavo died on March 31.

In the abortion case, Palm Beach County Judge Ronald Alvarez, who temporarily blocked the abortion last week, ruled on Monday that the girl could have the procedure over the objections of the DCF, her guardian.

Mathew Staver, president of Orlando, Florida-based Liberty Counsel, a conservative advocacy group, said he was disappointed by the state's decision not to pursue appeals.

"A second opinion is clearly warranted in a case where life and death is at stake," he said. "An appellate court should look at whether or not the girl is mature enough to make a decision like this."

I've got a crazy idea. Give the girl a real life lesson in personal responsibility and let her have the baby. But oh, wait..no...that won't work. That would mean people would have consider and accept the consequences of their actions. Well, we can't have that now can we....