A Florida Judge Tried to Stop a Teen From Getting an Abortion—Because of Her GPA

And the judge's wife is a Florida state senator trying to pass a 15-week abortion ban.

Photo of teen with backpack holding door while walking out
Like many other states, Florida forces minors seeking abortion to get parental consent—or else go to court to beg a judge for permission. Getty Images

A Florida appeals court last week overturned a trial judge’s rejection of a 17-year-old’s request to get an abortion without written parental consent.

The decision meant the teen was allowed to get the abortion she was seeking. But why did it even have to get to this point? Because of people like Judge John Stargel, who wrote an eight-page dissent to the appellate court ruling.

And yes, Stargel’s wife, Kelli, is a Florida state lawmaker trying to ban abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation. The bill cleared its first committee in the Florida state House committee last week, the Miami Herald reported. If it becomes law, it’ll have a devastating effect for access not just in the state but throughout the region. As Rewire News Group reported last year, Florida offers much more protection for abortion access than any of the states it borders, and its clinics treat patients from throughout the South.  

Florida, like most states in the country, has never been particularly supportive of young people getting abortions. It already required parental notification, but in 2020 the state started forcing minors seeking abortion to get parental consent—or else go to court to beg a judge for permission. The latter process, called a judicial bypass, is confusing and invasive; last week’s Jane Doe was ultimately allowed to get an abortion, but first she had to appeal the initial judge’s baseless decision.

Like most abortion restrictions, Florida’s forced parental consent law does the most harm to those who are already disadvantaged, like, immigrants. The risk of deportation makes it even more intimidating for undocumented minors or those with undocumented family members to petition for judicial bypass. And even for teens with a parent who can offer consent, the law’s requirement to accompany the written consent with a state-issued ID poses a significant obstacle.  As Rewire News Group reported:

For teens, who must also navigate the same profusion of abortion laws as adults, parental involvement mandates are a distinct burden. This is particularly true for youth who, in addition to being disenfranchised by their age, are also marginalized by their identities, family structure, socio-economic position, or by their immigration status.

While some teens have managed to get justice through appeals, not everyone will—and the clock keeps ticking.

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.