The Nebraska Supreme Court has rejected a 16-year-old foster child’s request to get an abortion without parental consent.
The unnamed girl had told Douglas County District Judge Peter Bataillon she was 10 weeks pregnant and asked for a court order allowing an abortion during a closed hearing this summer. The girl was living with foster parents and worried that she would lose her placement with them if they found out she was pregnant. She said her foster parents had strong religious beliefs, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The girl was living with foster parents after a juvenile court ended the parental rights of her biological parents, who reportedly physically abused and neglected her.
The girl’s attorney, Catherine Mahern said she believes the high court ruling avoided some issues, including whether the district court judge, who denied the girl’s request, demonstrated bias.
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The Omaha World-Herald reports that according to the Supreme Court ruling, Judge Bataillon had asked the girl if she understood that “when you have the abortion it's going to kill the child inside you.”
Battalion had ruled that the girl’s foster parents would serve as her guardians and that the girl had not shown she was mature enough to make the decision to seek an abortion.
In 2011, the law in Nebraska was changed from requiring minors to inform parents of an abortion to requiring them to get written, notarized consent of a parent or guardian. Exceptions are limited to cases of abuse by the parent or guardian, medical emergencies and instances in which the minor is sufficiently mature and well-informed to decide whether to have an abortion.
The high court majority ruled that the girl was not mature enough to make the decision herself. The ruling was the first involving Nebraska's new parental consent law.
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Mahern declined to say whether the girl is still pregnant, three months later. “It is not in my client's best interests to comment,” she said, according to the Omaha World-Herald.