Judge Rules Pregnancy Makes You a Grown Up

Jeanne Sager

pregnant teenThe whole idea behind the pro-choice movement is to allow pregnant women to decide what happens to their own bodies. So what happens when a judge uses a pregnant teen's free will to rush her into an adult world?

That's what the parents of Gabrielle Squeglia, a 17-year-old Ohio girl, are claiming happened in the state recently.

Two months pregnant, Squeglia allegedly told the judge her parents were trying to force her to have an abortion. So he allowed her to skip the parental approval needed for a marriage under 18 and signed off on a marriage to her boyfriend, 17-year-old Dustin Goldman.

The girl's family has publicly stated they were not pushing for an abortion, and they're asking why the court didn't refer the case to child services if they thought Gabrielle was in danger.

In confiscating the girl's phone and restricting her movements, they may have just thought they were acting like parents. But theirs is a story that's all too familiar for parents of pregnant teens. Their kids are still kids, but there are avenues open to them that they'd traditionally have to wait until age 18 to explore. Among them:

Pregnant teens do not automatically achieve emancipation upon conception. But, many state court systems do take it into consideration as part of the process.

Pregnant teens have control of their own medical decisions. In many states, once a teen is sexually active, her health care providers are required to keep her medical records from her parents. She can disclose them to her parents, but she doesn't have to.

Pregnant teens can have an abortion, although the process varies. Some states allow teens seeking an abortion to bypass parental permission; some still call for both parents to sign off.

Pregnant teens can choose adoption for their offspring. This is a fact that MTV reality show Teen Mom shed light on this year with teen parents Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra giving up their daughter, Carly, despite their parents' vehement opposition.

The very act of getting pregnant at such a young age is generally evidence these kids aren't grown up yet. But the law doesn't see maturity stages.


Image via christitaylor/Flickr

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