An associate law professor at the Jesuit-run University of Creighton in Omaha, Neb., is representing a 16-year-old foster child seeking to abort her unborn child.
Creighton law professor Catherine Mahern, who also serves as the director of the University’s Abrahams Legal Clinic, represented the girl in the district court and the appeal to the Nebraska Supreme Court.
Nebraska law requires girls who are age 17 and younger to get written, notarized consent from a parent or guardian to procure an abortion. Exceptions to this law are granted when the girl in question is the victim of abuse or neglect; if there is a medical emergency; or if she is deemed by a judge to be mature enough to make the decision on her own.
The Nebraska Supreme Court refused to allow Mahern’s client, whose parents had lost their parental rights, to obtain an abortion because she was “not mature enough to make the decision herself.”
In its ruling, the state’s Supreme Court avoided ruling on some of the questions before it, including whether U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon had demonstrated bias in his handling of the case. The charge of potential bias from Mahern stems from an instance during the hearing when Bataillon asked the girl if she understood that, “when you have the abortion it's going to kill the child inside you.”
Mahern declined to say whether the girl was still pregnant at the time of the Supreme Court hearing and hinted that she may have aided her client in obtaining an abortion in another way. She “noted there are ways for a minor to bypass parental consent other than through the courts. Among them is going to another state,” according to the story.
In fact, Planned Parenthood offers advice on how to be avoid parental consent laws. No parental involvement is required for girls under the age of 18 to procure an abortion in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia. Additionally, many states only require parents to be told about the decision rather than requiring permission.
Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick J. Reilly lamented the professor’s decision to represent this case. He stated:
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