Teen wins lawsuit against parents who wanted abortion
(CNN) — The boyfriend of a 16-year-old, pregnant Texas girl who says her parents tried to force her to have an abortion told CNN on Monday that the couple never considered terminating the pregnancy.
“We were always determined to have the baby,” Evan Madison told CNN’s Piers Morgan.
The parents of the girl, who is 10 weeks pregnant, agreed Monday in a state court not to coerce her to have an abortion, an anti-abortion group representing the girl said.
“We just achieved an agreed order,” Stephen Casey, a lawyer and founder of The Texas Center for Defense of Life, told CNN in a telephone interview Monday afternoon.
Casey had argued that Roe v. Wade, the historic 1973 Supreme Court decision that guaranteed women the right to have an abortion, works both ways.
“Roe was about the right to choose,” Casey told CNN prior to the order being signed. “This young woman has the right to choose to have her child.”
Legal experts said that no one can force anyone, minor or not, to undergo an abortion. Monday’s legal action was intended, the girl’s lawyer said, to stop the parents from trying to influence their daughter to undergo the procedure.
Madison, 16, said he and the girl plan to get married. The legal age to marry in Texas is 16 with parental consent.
Both teens were in the courtroom on Monday. They sat separately from the girl’s parents, who are divorced. The girl lives with her mother.
The parents have denied the allegations in the lawsuit and called the case baseless. Their attorney did not respond to requests from CNN for comment.
The center, which is active in Republican politics nationwide, says it is dedicated to “aggressively defending the sanctity of human life.”
The lawyers were first contacted by the boy’s mother, who said that the girl’s parents were threatening both teens, according to Casey, who said the center then contacted the girl and offered their services gratis.
The lawsuit alleged that the girl’s mother threatened to “slip (the teen) an abortion pill,” took her daughter’s phone and car and kept her home from school to punish her for choosing not to abort her fetus. The mother told the teen that she was “making the biggest mistake of her life” by choosing to have the child and that the mother herself had undergone numerous abortions, so her daughter should, too, the lawsuit said.
It added that the pregnant girl’s father told her he “was going to look into canceling” her health insurance. He texted his daughter that she “needs an ass whoopin’,” the document said.
The parents told their daughter she could “continue to live in misery” in their home or she could “have the abortion and tell everyone it was a miscarriage,” the lawsuit added.
The girl’s parents denied in court records all allegations and asked to have the cost of retaining an attorney reimbursed. That request was not granted.
In the interest of protecting the girl’s privacy, CNN is not identifying her or her parents. However, the restraining order includes the parents’ names.
“Under Texas procedure when it’s a case involving and alleging abuse of a minor, the minor’s identity should be protected, and the girl’s attorneys might have violated that,” said Susan Hays, an attorney and legal adviser to Jane’s Due Process, an Austin-based nonprofit organization that represents pregnant minors in the state.
Jane’s Due Process, which supports the right to legal abortion, is not involved in this case.
“There’s an understanding that we will not make law on the back of a 16-year-old girl, and that’s what her attorneys are doing,” said Hays. “I’m appalled that they’ve done this to this girl. Putting the girl’s parents’ names in court documents … her attorneys have done a lousy job protecting her confidentiality.”
Hays said the lawyers could have used the parents’ initials or included less detail about the family.
Casey responded that the courts had notified child protective services about the abuse allegations.
Last year Casey’s group represented a 14-year-old from Corpus Christi who said her family wanted to force her to have an abortion. The girl didn’t want to abort the fetus, Casey said, and her grandmother and cousins were allegedly abusive to the teen. The lawyer in that case, which was settled and a confidential agreement reached, did not disclose the girl’s name, Casey said. He would not say whether the girl had an abortion.