A 13-year-old Palm Beach County foster child at the center of a legal battle over her right to end an unwanted pregnancy got permission from a judge Monday to get an abortion — but was thwarted shortly afterward when state child-welfare officials appealed.
Palm Beach Circuit Judge Ronald Alvarez, who only last week temporarily blocked the girl’s decision to terminate her pregnancy, ruled late Monday that the teenager may obtain an abortion, said Maxine Williams, the girl’s attorney at Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County. The girl is identified in court papers only as L.G.
”Judge Alvarez did issue an order saying she is competent,” said Howard Simon, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which also represents the girl. “She has made a decision. She has a right to exercise that decision. And, acting on her decision is in her best interests.”
…By appealing Alvarez’s order Monday, the DCF was granted an automatic stay of his ruling. Under a procedural rule, state agencies are entitled to a stay of any court ruling they appeal. But, acting on a request from L.G.’s attorneys, Alvarez lifted that stay and ordered the DCF to transport L.G. to a medical clinic.
DCF officials then ”refused” to drive the girl to a clinic to end her pregnancy, said Williams, the girl’s attorney.
Alvarez then signed an order allowing L.G.’s attorneys at Legal Aid to transport her to a medical clinic, Williams said. The lawyers were on their way to pick up the girl when they got word: The DCF had appealed Alvarez’s order allowing the lawyers to transport L.G. and, once again, had received an automatic stay, this time from the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
The stay was granted so late in the day that L.G.’s attorneys had no time to act. The procedure was halted, Williams said.
The state only has to keep her tied up in a court mess for about eight more months before they can forget all about her again.
State Department of Children & Families spokeswoman Marilyn Munoz said the agency would “respectfully comply with the court’s decision.” She declined to provide further details.
“We are working for the best interest of the young girl,” Munoz said.
Right. And now that all the bad publicity is out on Florida and the DCF, we can push her back into a state home and pretend the girl doesn’t exist.
My heart goes out to this girl.
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