These are words not often written: Alabama has done the right thing. Or rather, the Alabama Judiciary has done the right thing.
On June 27 a juvenile court somewhere in Alabama ruled that a 12-year-old girl who had been living with her mother, stepfather, four siblings and an uncle and pregnant for 13 weeks could obtain a waiver to the requirement for parental consent for a minor to have an abortion. The district attorney opposed the waiver but Alabama Court of Civic Appeals upheld the juvenile court's decision made following testimony from the girl and from a Department of Human Services caseworker, who (according to Alabama.com)
testified that the adult relative who impregnated the girl had been charged with statutory rape. The caseworker testified there was a history of physical abuse and neglect by the girls' mother and that the children had been removed from her custody five times. The caseworker said the girl was shy but communicated at a normal level for a sixth-grader.
The girl, who had just completed fifth grade at the time of the trial, testified that she did not want to have the baby because she was scared. The girl told the court she did not want to involve her mother in the decision because they did not have a good relationship. The girl also testified that her mother believed the decision should be left to the girl. The girl testified that she did not know her father but believed he was living in a Central American country.
The appeals court opinion says that under the law, the juvenile court was required to grant the waiver if it determined that the girl was mature enough to make the decision or that the abortion would be in her best interest.
Immediately after the higher court's action, there was a joint news conference held in which Win Johnson, culture warrior and legal director for the Administrative Office of Courts under then- Chief Justice Roy Moore
spoke both about his staunch opposition to abortion overall and about leaving it up to a child whether to have the procedure.
He said it's stunning that courts would issue an opinion saying that a 12-year-old "was mature enough -- and I'm going to put this in its starkest terms -- to decide to murder her own child in her womb."
"Now, nobody has said that to her, I bet you, in any of her counseling," Johnson said. "Nobody has explained that to her in its starkest, rawest form, like that. But what if it was, what if she really thought through it, even as a 12-year-old and said, 'Gosh, I don't want that on my conscience.' "
But what if it was, what if she really thought through it, even as a 12-year-old and siad 'Gosh, I don't want that on my conscience.'"
Let me see whether I can translate that into English. Nope, can't. Johnson could have explained why a 32-year-old could "decide to murder her own child in her own womb"- except that life and death wasn't really the issue here, anyway.
The other advocate of compassionate conservatism, Lorie Mullins, executive director of COPE Pregnancy Center in Montgomery, contended that
she has counseled hundreds of pregnant women, including those considering abortion and those after abortions. Mullins said the aftermath of abortion is grimmer than what women expect and often leads to depression, substance abuse and difficulty with relationships. A child entering the sixth grade should not be allowed to take that step, Mullins said.
"She probably has trouble deciding what shirt to wear to school," Mullins said. "The courts, the law has decided that she's not old enough, wise enough and mature enough to make her own decision about whether or not she wants to drink, to buy a pack of cigarettes to drive a car.
And yet, apparently, the chilld would be old enough to raise a child. COPE, you will be unsurprised to learn, is hardly objective, listing on its website as possible volunteer "pro-life activities" as "accompany COPE employees and other pro-life workers to local churches, health fairs, or community activities." Claiming depression, substance abuse and difficulty with relationships, contrary to fact, is a key tactic of Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
The forced-birth advocates won't give up but at least in Alabama, for now, one girl has been protected against these raving ideologues.