Houston teen fights for reproductive rights

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by BAILEY MCGOWAN

WFAA

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 14 at 4:53 PM

A Houston area teenager was granted a temporary injunction this week against her own parents who tried to force her to have an abortion.

The 16-year-old’s legal counsel will attend a hearing Friday afternoon at the Harris County Courthouse where a judge will decide on an application for a permanent injunction against her parents.
 
The teen asked for a temporary restraining order until Friday for the parents to stop harassing her and allow her to speak with both her boyfriend and attorney, said Stephen Casey, the teen’s attorney from the Texas Center for Defense of Life. She is currently nine weeks pregnant.
 
The teen also wants the court to expressly tell her parents that she has the right to decide whether to have an abortion, which is an existing Supreme Court decision, Bellotti v. Baird, from 1979, Casey said. That decision ruled that a minor has the right to make her own reproductive decisions, including whether or not to have an abortion, Casey said.
 
The parents were not present at Tuesday’s hearing and did not have to be because of the timeliness of the case, Casey said.
 
On Friday afternoon, the court will rule on whether to grant a permanent injunction against her parents until she has the baby. They allege her parents have verbally and physically threatened and harassed her, said Casey. News 8 was unable to reach the girl’s parents for comment. 
 
The petition also asks that the teen be allowed to live with either the unborn child’s paternal grandparents or the teen’s maternal grandparents.
 
Casey said he thinks stories like this teen’s are underreported and more women would carry their child to term if they had the support to do so.
 
“Well the people [the teen’s parents] who are supposed to be raising her and caring for her are telling her to take the easy way out,” Casey said. 
 
The teen, referred to as R.E.K. in court documents, was living with the unborn child’s paternal grandparents in Jan. when she discovered she was pregnant. R.E.K’s mother told her she would have an abortion after learning of her daughter’s pregnancy, according to the petition.
 
Koen met with the paternal grandparents to discuss her daughter’s pregnancy where she told them she might slip R.E.K. an abortion pill through deception, according to the petition.
 
Koen then told R.E.K’s father, Jeffery Koen of their daughter’s pregnancy. After, he demanded his daughter have the abortion and threatened to cancel her health insurance, according to the petition.
 
R.E.K. returned to her mother’s residence where her mother and father took away her cell phone and car and then told R.E.K. she would need to start paying rent to either the paternal grandparents or Denise Koen as well as get two jobs if she planned on having the child, according to the petition.
 
Her parents also kept her from school one day in order to try to convince her to go have the abortion, the documents allege.
 
R.E.K. was sent to Alabama to further try to convince the teen to have the abortion, according to the petition. The teen was told by her mother she could live in misery at her mother’s house, have the abortion and lie that it was a miscarriage or leave the house without support.
 
The Texas Center for Defense of Life has handled and won similar cases in both Corpus Christi and Austin, Casey said.
 
“[I am] Declining comment, and do not feel that it would be right to discuss but it should be decided on among family,” said Michael Caseretto, the defendant’s legal counsel according to the petition. 

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