Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Litigation, Bypass of Parental Input into Abortion - Minor (Pre-Dobbs)

The Florida Supreme Court found a due process right to counsel in proceedings for a minor to bypass parental consent to abortion. In re T.W., 551 So. 2d 1186, 1196 (Fla. 1989). The court stated: "In [parental consent hearings] wherein a minor can be wholly deprived of authority to exercise her fundamental right to privacy [by obtaining an abortion], counsel is required under our state constitution."  The court noted that the provision of counsel in In Interest of D.B., 385 So. 2d 83, 90-91 (Fla. 1980) (a prior case finding a right to counsel in termination of parental rights cases) was based on the fact that "an individual's interest in preserving the family unit and raising children is fundamental," and thus since "a woman's right to decide whether or not to continue her pregnancy constitutes a fundamental constitutional right," counsel is similarly required whenever one can be deprived of the authority to exercise that right.  Despite relying upon a federal case, the In re T.W. court maintained that it was "expressly decid[ing] this case on state law grounds."




Note: Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision's in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, 142 S.Ct. 2228 (2022), the laws governing abortion are complicated and rapidly changing.  This major development may not be current since Dobbs.  For up-to-date information about the status of abortion by state, please see Center for Reproductive Rights, After Roe Fell: Abortion Laws by State.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no