Tuesday’s Florida primary saw the defeat of a state judge who in a widely reported case denied a 17-year-old an abortion in part due to her academic performance. Jared Smith, who was barely defeated by attorney Nancy Jacobs in the nonpartisan primary, was appointed to Florida’s 13th Circuit Court by Governor Ron DeSantis (R) in 2019.
Jacobs won by about 3.7 percentage points, or about 7,900 votes, defeating Smith with about 51.9% of the vote. Smith had decided in January that the 17-year-old, who was not identified in court filings, was ineligible for an abortion due to her academic performance. The decision was overturned by an appeals court. Although she stated during her evidence that her grades were “Bs,” Smith determined that her current GPA is 2.0. It is obvious that a “B” average would not equal a 2.0 GPA.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, Florida is one of just six states that demands parental notification and approval for adolescents seeking abortions. The teen had requested that the condition be waived in court. If a judge in Florida determines by “clear and compelling evidence” that the minor is “sufficiently mature” to decide to have an abortion, then the judge may waive parental consent. Judges are expected to evaluate the minor’s age, general IQ, and emotional stability before deciding whether to grant those requests.
Two big results that have to do with abortion tonight in local elections. https://t.co/LoEFR00RyI
— Taniel (@Taniel) August 24, 2022
The law has given rise to a number of well-known cases, including one earlier this month in which a Florida appeals court determined a 16-year-old did not prove she fulfilled the maturity standard to get around the parental notification and consent requirements. Former Florida Governor Bob Martinez (R), the editorial board of the Tampa Bay Times, and a number of retired judges who served on the circuit all endorsed Smith in the primary contest.
Democrats had hoped that the Supreme Court’s June decision to invalidate the right to an abortion would galvanise voters in this year’s midterm elections and help the party avoid crushing defeats as it tries to hold onto control of Congress. A referendum proposal that would have removed abortion rights from the state constitution was defeated earlier this month by voters in Kansas, a normally red state. Another indication of the potential impact of the abortion verdict was shown in New York’s concurrent primary as voters there defeated Smith in his race for the circuit court on Tuesday.
In the state’s 19th Congressional Area, a key swing district that supported former President Obama in 2012, former President Trump in 2016, and former President Biden in 2020, Pat Ryan (D), who made defending abortion rights a key component of his campaign, defeated Marc Molinaro (R).
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