Saturday, April 1, 2023

United States: Florida judges block young people’s access to abortion

(Miami) – Judges in the US state of Florida repeatedly deny people under the age of 18 their right to access abortion services, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Harmful state laws that require anyone under 18 to obtain parental consent for an abortion make young people without a supportive parent or legal guardian a complex, potentially painful, and legal process. Motivates to take exemption from court through. The extreme arbitrariness is called a “judicial exception”.

The 39-page report, “Access Denied: How Florida Judges Hinder Young People’s Ability to Obey Abortion Services,” documents how many judges in Florida deny young people’s petitions, forcing them to continue a pregnancy against their will. travel out of state, or seek a way to manage an abortion outside the health care system. Judges have the power to make very subjective judgments about the maturity and interests of young people. The vague criteria in state law allow for highly arbitrary decisions, with judges basing their decisions on factors such as the youth’s educational qualifications and the impact of their behavior during the severance hearing.

“No one should have to go before a judge to exercise their human right to access abortion care,” said Margaret Worth, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and, and judges have the power to determine a person’s ability to receive basic health care. should not have the power to do so.” Report author. “Florida officials must end this inhumane denial of young people’s rights.”

Each year, approximately 200 youth in Florida go through the “judicial bypass” process. a recent article in American Journal of Public Health It is estimated that about 15 percent of people under the age of 18 who get abortions in the state each year go through this procedure. In 2020 and 2021, judges rejected more than 12 percent of his petitions.

Human Rights Watch noted that a young person’s ability to obtain immunity from court is determined significantly by the county in which they live. Hillsborough County, where the city of Tampa is located, denied a far greater number and proportion of cases than any other county in Florida, rejecting more than half of the county’s petitions in 2021.

Human Rights Watch analyzed data from Florida courts on the judicial bypass process in recent years and reviewed publicly available court records of cases decided by appellate courts. Cases denied by both the trial and appellate courts include a young person seeking abortion care after a traumatic event, a young person with absent and incapacitated parental intervention without a lawyer, and a Young man who was free from the law but ended up in court because neither his lawyer nor the judge understood the waiver. The court files of some cases look like the results of personality tests. In one case, a young man’s “soft and timid” behavior appeared to be a factor in the judge’s rejection of his plea.

Human Rights Watch stated that allowing judges to decide whether young people can access health care is inherently problematic and inconsistent with the right to health. The system leads to outcomes in which a young person is deemed too immature to decide to have an abortion, but mature enough to remain pregnant and potentially coerced into fathering a child.

Even when judicial exception requests are granted by the courts, the delays caused by the process can make abortion unfeasible. And the need to appeal the decision adds to the delay.

Since the United States Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to access to abortion in June 2022, more than a dozen states in the country have banned nearly all abortions, including several states near Florida. Abortion is still legal in Florida in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, but pregnant people must wait at least 24 hours after their initial abortion visit, in addition to mandatory parental consent and notification for those under 18. Have to do The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges to the 15-week ban, but has not temporarily blocked the law.

Decades of research has shown that the majority of people under the age of 18 who seek abortion services involve a parent or other supporting adult in their decision, even when state law does not require it. Those who often do not have access to a qualified parent or fear that their parent’s involvement could result in serious consequences, such as abuse, loss of housing, separation from family or being forced to continue the pregnancy against them To be forced ,

In these circumstances, the youth may apply to the state trial court for an exemption from the state’s parental consent requirement through a judicial bypass process. To receive this exemption, the young person must demonstrate to the judge that he or she is mature enough to make the decision to have an abortion without parental involvement, or that parental involvement is in his or her best interests. No, or he has faced abuse from his parents. their parents or legal guardians.

Forcing young people who choose not to involve their parents in their abortion decision to go through the judicial process delays their care and creates the risk that the matter may no longer remain confidential, which could be detrimental to their may endanger safety and well-being.

Florida lawmakers should repeal the state’s parental consent and notification law and ensure that people under the age of 18 can access confidential and free consent without involving an unsupportive parent or being forced to go to the courts. access timely abortion services. The U.S. Justice Department’s Reproductive Rights Task Force should launch an investigation into judicial bypass and young people’s access to abortion in Florida, to examine state actions that reduce access to reproductive care in states where abortion is prohibited. is legal.

“Young people have the right to make their own health-related decisions without being subjected to a stressful and painful legal process and judicial review,” Worth said. “Florida’s leaders must reaffirm the rights and dignity of young people by repealing forced parental consent.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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