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Judge okays abortion for girl, 13

Associated Press
Published May 3, 2005


WEST PALM BEACH - A 13-year-old at the center of an abortion fight with the state was given permission Monday to terminate her pregnancy, but it was unclear whether she immediately underwent the procedure.

Attorneys for the girl, known only as L.G. in court papers, said the abortion was scheduled for later Monday. However, the state Department of Children and Families appealed the decision, according to Maxine Williams, one of the teen's attorneys.

"Since this is still in litigation, I can't speak to what's going on in court," DCF spokeswoman Marilyn Munoz said.

Palm Beach Juvenile Judge Ronald Alvarez issued an order last week temporarily stopping the teen, who lives in a state shelter, from having the abortion. DCF argued she was too young and immature to decide for herself and state law prohibited the agency from consenting to an abortion.

Alvarez held up the abortion until a psychological evaluation was completed, but he ruled Monday that the teen would not be physically or emotionally harmed by the abortion.

"Legally speaking, it's not a difficult decision to make," Alvarez was quoted as saying by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "Morally speaking, it's a very difficult decision for this court to make. ... But I'm not here to make the moral decision. I'm here to make the legal decisions."

"He ruled that she is competent, that she has made a decision and that she has a right to act on that decision," said Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped represent the girl. The judge also declared "her right to act on that decision is also in her best interest," Simon said.

The teen, who was more than 14 weeks pregnant, has been in DCF care for at least four years.

Her attorneys say Florida law protects a minor's right to choose an abortion.

Florida's high court cited state privacy rights in 1989 when it tossed out a law that would have required parental consent for a minor's abortion.