Nebraska changed its abortion laws two years ago

The Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that a 16-year-old foster child may not have an abortion because she’s not mature enough to decide on her own whether or not to have one.

Well if she’s not mature enough for that how is she mature enough to bear and raise a child? Oh that’s ok, they might say, she’ll just hand her baby over for adoption. How is she mature enough for that? If she’s not mature enough to decide whether or not to have an abortion she’s surely not mature enough to be pregnant at all. Children shouldn’t have babies, even babies they intend to give up for adoption.

The 5-2 decision denied the unnamed child’s request for an abortion, saying the girl had not shown that “she is sufficiently mature and well informed to decide on her own whether to have an abortion,” according to the ruling.

That necessarily means they think she is mature enough to decide to remain pregnant. But being pregnant is a momentous decision; surely it takes at least as much maturity and being well informed as does deciding to stop being pregnant.

The girl is not named in legal records, but is living with foster parents after the state terminated the parental rights of her biological parents after physical abuse and neglect. At the confidential hearing terminating those parental rights, she told the court that she was pregnant, and that she would not be financially capable of supporting a child or being “the right mom that [she] would like to be right now,” according to the court ruling. But she also told the court that she feared losing her placement in foster care if her highly-religious foster parents learned of her pregnancy.

Well the judges don’t care about that, because they’re mature enough not to need stable foster care. Lucky them.

The Omaha World-Herald interviewed her attorney, Catherine Mahern, who said “It is not in my client’s best interests to comment,” while noting that her client could go around the restrictions of Nebraska law by going to another state.

But speaking to the Houston Chronicle, Mahern said the girl didn’t need consent under the regulations of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, which states that “if a ward decides to have an abortion, the consent of the parent(s) or Department is not required.” Notification of the girl’s foster parents might be required, however.

Nebraska changed its abortion laws two years ago from requiring that parents of minors be informed to requiring written and notarized parental consent for an abortion. Exceptions may be made in cases of parental abuse, medical emergencies, or cases in which the minor is “sufficiently mature and well-informed” to decide whether to have an abortion.

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the child did not meet that standard in this case.

Chip chip chip away at abortion rights. Mess up a life here and another life there, to make baby Jesus smile.


  1. Claire Ramsey says

    Sickening. I wonder if that insufficiently mature and well-informed young woman needs some cash for a trip to another state.

    I am always so conflicted about Nebraska. They have sand hill cranes there, and bison. And I had a beautiful garden! I had the once in a lifetime experience of sitting among Tibetan monks while they did throat singing. Really nice friends too!

    And I also had the highly bizarre experience of listening to my neighbor crowing about his happiness a few days after 9/11/2001 – it meant that the end was even closer than he thought! I asked him to remove himself from my yard.

  2. Pteryxx says

    The Nebraska Supreme Court refused to hear the girl’s appeal. Here’s the decision she was appealing.

    After advising the girl that “when you have the abortion, it’s going to kill the child inside you,” lower court judge Peter Bataillon denied her request for a waiver. Bataillon, who according to RH Reality Check, had been an attorney for extremist anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, found that the girl was not mature and informed enough to make the decision to have an abortion. He also found that the girl should have sought consent from her foster parents, even though the girl’s foster parents are not her legal guardian and the state regulations governing the Department of Health and Human Services gives minors in its custody the right to consent to abortion, without seeking permission from the Department.

    From Operation Rescue lawyer to judge… seems fair and impartial.

    More from RHR, both about the case and about Battaillon.

    After holding the minor to the same pleading standards as attorneys, then punishing her for failing to meet them, the justices continued to ignore the law that clearly states minors in state custody have the right to consent to abortion on their own, by stating that because of the 2011 change from parental notification to parental consent those regulations were no longer valid. Since that 2011 change, the department hasn’t issued any new regulations, meaning that the even if those regulations were still valid thanks to this decision they likely aren’t anymore.

    With the issue of whether minors in state custody can consent to their own abortions now upended, that leaves the petitioner in this case, and future wards of the state in similar quandaries, with only the possibility of convincing a judge via a judicial bypass proceeding that she’s sufficiently mature enough to make the decision to terminate a pregnancy on her own. And we know how those decisions turn out for the minors involved.


    Not surprisingly, the trial court judge has a history of anti-choice sympathies. In 1990, as a private attorney, Bataillon successfully defended 17 Operation Rescue protesters in Omaha against charges of clinic trespassing, by advancing a “necessity defense” and arguing their trespassing was necessary to prevent the “grave evil” of abortion. Scott Roeder tried unsuccessfully to advance a necessity defense during his trial for the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Three years later, Bataillon represented an anti-abortion activist accused of stalking an abortion provider including approaching him at an Omaha airport and telling him, “You deserve to be blown away.”

  3. Pteryxx says

    Extracts from the court filing and more references to Bataillon’s history here:

    The trial court judge, Peter Bataillon, went against her at every turn, deciding that even though her biological parents had relinquished their parental rights, she still required a foster parent’s consent under the law; that the “victim of abuse” exception to the consent requirement only applied to abuse by one’s current parents, and not to the abuse she had suffered from her biological parents; and that she was insufficiently mature to make this decision without their consent.

    Today’s 5-2 decision affirmed Judge Bataillon’s decisions on the facts and law, with much deference to his evaluation of this young woman’s maturity:

    In evaluating her maturity, a trial court “‘may draw inferences from the minor’s composure, analytic ability, appearance, thoughtfulness, tone of voice, expressions, and her ability to articulate her reasoning and conclusions.’” The latter items are matters that we cannot discern from the cold record before us and are another reason why we elect to give weight to the fact that the trial judge heard and observed petitioner in finding her not to be mature and well informed.

    Below the fold, why Judge Bataillon really can’t be trusted to protect women’s rights to make their own health care decisions. You’ll be appalled.

    The girl’s attorney testified to the court that Bataillon should have been recused, but the SC refused to address that point.

  4. rnilsson says

    Well, see, folks, I can see a bit of a dilemma here.
    Now, if only Nebraska weren’t so deeply land-locked.
    It might be persuaded to secede (can’t spell exit). *

    So how come Omaha has a beach? Eh?
    Or is that the O’bama’ha’ma, huh? No,

    “It’s the world’s a’gone crazy (cotillion),
    ladies are dancin’ alone,
    ’cause the side-men all wanna be front-men,
    and the front-men all wanna go home.”

    ‘S OK, just go home. Be quiet. Shush.

    * & Can’t quite envision whole state rapture.

    ** & Won’t pun on Baton or Batallion, or even Bat’a’loon.

    *** Although maybe someone could take a Book to His Honor’s Face, and good. Also, in commensurate terms, the F’n Su’me Corks! To term.

  5. iknklast says

    Of course, you have to remember it was the Democratic Senator from Nebraska that held up the ACA because of the insistence on anti-abortion language. In our current gubernatorial race, only one of the Democratic primary candidates has had the guts to say he is pro-choice; it’s likely the others will take the expedient route and declare themselves pro-life Democrats.


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