Lawsuit: Texas parents pressuring teen to have abortion
An anti-abortion legal organization in Texas has won a restraining order against the parents of a 16-year-old girl, saying that the couple is trying to coerce the teen into having an abortion.
The Texas Center for Defense of Life argued that Roe v. Wade, the historic 1973 Supreme Court decision that guaranteed women the right to have an abortion, works both ways.
"Roe was about the right to choose," Center founder and attorney Stephen Casey told CNN on Monday. "This young woman has the right to choose to have her child. I've spoken to her on numerous occasions and she's very assertive."
Legal experts that CNN spoke with stressed that no one can force anyone -- minor or not -- to have an abortion. The legal action in this case is meant, the teen's lawyer says, to stop the parents from trying to influence their daughter.
She and the baby's father, also 16, plan to wed, the lawyer said. The legal age to marry in Texas is 16 with parental consent.
The parents have denied all allegations and called the case baseless. Their attorney did not respond to requests from CNN for comment.
The Center, which is active in Republican politics in Texas and nationwide, says it is dedicated to "aggressively defending the sanctity of human life."
The lawyers were first contacted by the boy's mother, who claimed that the girl's parents were threatening the teenage girl face to face and via text message. The woman also said the parents had threatened her son.
Casey says the Center then contacted the girl a few weeks ago and interviewed her at length, offering its services for free.
On Monday, the Center will ask a Houston court for an injunction against the parents, which will give a kind of lasting power to the restraining order. Casey believes it will protect the teen throughout the duration of her pregnancy.
The teenager still lives at home, however.
Casey explained that the restraining order isn't to physically keep the parents away from their daughter, but to "make sure that (the teen's) rights are secure."
"The order stops the parents from bullying," Casey said.
The restraining order alleges that the teen's mother threatened to "slip (the teen) an abortion pill," took her daughter's phone and car, and kept her home from school to punish her for choosing not to abort her baby. The mother told the teen that she was "making the biggest mistake of her life" by choosing to have the child and that the mother had had numerous abortions, so her daughter should, too, the restraining order says.
Also according to the order, the father told his daughter he was not going to provide health insurance for her to have the baby and "was going to look into canceling" the insurance. He allegedly texted his daughter that she "needs an ass whoopin,'" the document says.
The parents told their daughter she could either "continue to live in misery" in their home or she could "have the abortion and tell everyone it was a miscarriage," according to the restraining order.
In response to the order's claims, the parents denied in court record all allegations and asked to have the cost of retaining an attorney reimbursed.
CNN is not naming the parents in the interest of protecting the girl's privacy. However, the restraining order includes the parents' names.
"Under Texas procedure when it's a case involving and alleging abuse of a minor, the minor's identity should be protected, and the girl's attorneys might have violated that," said Susan Hays, an attorney and legal adviser to Jane's Due Process, an Austin-based nonprofit organization that represents pregnant minors in the state.
Jane's Due Process, which supports the right to legal abortion, is not involved in this case.
"There's an understanding that we will not make law on the back of a 16-year-old girl, and that's what her attorneys are doing," said Hays. "I'm appalled that they've done this to this girl. Putting the girl's parents' names in court documents ... her attorneys have done a lousy job protecting her confidentiality."
Hays said the lawyers could have used the parents' initials or included less detail about the family.
Casey responded to that criticism by saying that child protective services were notified by the courts about the abuse allegations.
He added that it's not the goal of the Texas Center for Defense of Life to disrupt the girl's family. He believes that legal action, in the end, serves to protect the girl.
"We feel like when the parents see their grandbaby, they'll say 'Oh!' and they'll have a change of heart," Casey said. "They (parents) usually do that."
Casey views the restraining order as a way to "stop the bullying" by the parents and enable their client to do what she wants.
This isn't the first time the Texas Center for Defense of Life has filed a suit of this nature.
Last year the group represented a 14-year-old from Corpus Christi who said her family wanted to force her to have an abortion. The girl didn't want to abort her baby, Casey said, and her grandmother and cousins were allegedly abusive to the teen. The lawyer in that case did not disclose the girl's name and CNN's attempt to reach her family at the time of the suit were not returned.
That case was settled, Casey said, and a confidential agreement was reached. He would not answer whether the girl had an abortion or not.