How Florida Judges Obstruct Young People’s Ability to Obtain Abortion Care

The 39-page report, “Access Denied: How Florida Judges Obstruct Young People’s Ability to Obtain Abortion Care,” documents how in Florida many judges deny young people’s petitions, forcing them to continue a pregnancy against their wishes, travel outside the state, or seek a way to manage abortion outside the health system. Judges have the power to make highly subjective determinations about a young person’s maturity and interests. Vague criteria in state law enable highly arbitrary decision-making, with judges making decisions based on factors such as the young person’s grades and impressions of their demeanor during a nerve-wracking hearing.

Illustration of a judge presenting a paper with the words "Permission for Abortion Denied"


  • July 14, 2021

    The Impact of Abortion Prosecutions in Ecuador

    The 128-page report, “‘Why Do They Want to Make Me Suffer Again?’ The Impact of Abortion Prosecutions in Ecuador” documents how these laws are having widespread harmful consequences in Ecuador, costing lives through increased maternal mortality and morbidity, cutting women and girls off from essential services, and undermining broader efforts to promote sexual and reproductive health. Women and girls charged with abortion often experience violations of their rights to medical confidentiality and due process, and face significant obstacles to accessing quality legal representation. The prosecutions affect not only women who wish to end an unwanted pregnancy but also those who experience miscarriages or obstetric emergencies, or urgently require post-abortion care.

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  • March 11, 2021

    The Human Rights Consequences of Parental Notice of Abortion in Illinois

    The 73-page report, “‘The Only People It Really Affects Are the People It Hurts’: The Human Rights Impacts of Parental Notice of Abortion in Illinois,” is the product of a collaboration between Human Rights Watch and the ACLU of Illinois. The groups found that young people often seek judicial bypass because they fear physical or emotional abuse, being kicked out of the home, alienation from their families or other deterioration of family relationships, or being forced to continue a pregnancy against their will. The groups also documented the hardships faced by young people forced to involve unsupportive family members in their abortion decision or navigate an unfamiliar court system to obtain a judicial bypass, and the additional stress and delays in seeking care this caused.

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  • August 31, 2020

    The Human Cost of Barriers to Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Argentina

    The 77-page report named “A Case for Legal Abortion: The Human Cost of Barriers to Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Argentina,” describes the consequences of the Senate’s rejection of a 2018 bill that would have fully decriminalized abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Human Rights Watch documented cases of women and girls who have, since then, encountered an array of barriers to access legal abortion and post-abortion care. The barriers include arbitrarily imposed gestational limits, lack of access to and availability of abortion methods, fear of criminal prosecution, stigmatization, and mistreatment by health professionals.

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  • June 18, 2019

    Adolescent Girls’ Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Dominican Republic

    This report documents how authorities have stalled the rollout of a long-awaited sexuality education program, leaving hundreds of thousands of adolescent girls and boys without scientifically accurate information about their health. The country has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The country’s total ban on abortion means an adolescent girl facing an unwanted pregnancy must continue that pregnancy against her wishes or obtain a clandestine abortion, often at great risk to her health and even her life. 

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  • February 6, 2019

    Attacks on Women’s Rights in Poland

    This report documents how, since coming to power in 2015, the Law and Justice government has targeted women’s rights groups through raids and defunding, often with little warning and no clear rationale. Human Rights Watch found that government agencies have dragged employees who support women’s rights protests or collaborate with women’s rights groups before disciplinary hearings and threatened their jobs. The government has failed to counter – and sometimes appeared to support – public smear campaigns by ruling party and other politicians and church-backed groups that mischaracterize women’s rights organizations and their work as dangerous to families and so-called “traditional values.”

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  • November 19, 2018

    The Total Criminalization of Abortion in the Dominican Republic

    Abortion is illegal in the Dominican Republic in all circumstances, even when a pregnancy is life-threatening, unviable, or the result of rape.

  • July 12, 2017

    The Impact of the Zika Outbreak on Women and Girls in Northeastern Brazil

    This report documents gaps in the Brazilian authorities’ response that have a harmful impact on women and girls and leave the general population vulnerable to continued outbreaks of serious mosquito-borne illnesses. The outbreak hit as the country faced its worst economic recession in decades, forcing authorities to make difficult decisions about allocating resources. But even in earlier times of economic growth, government investments in water and sanitation infrastructure were inadequate. Years of neglect contributed to the water and wastewater conditions that allowed the proliferation of the Aedes mosquito and the rapid spread of the virus, Human Rights Watch found.

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    Cover of the Women's Rights Brazil ZIKA report
  • May 22, 2017

    Lack of Access to Reproductive Healthcare in Sudan’s Rebel-Held Southern Kordofan

    This report documents how women and girls cannot get contraception and have little access to health care if they face complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The parties to the six-year-long conflict, the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA/M-North), have both obstructed impartial humanitarian aid.

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    Cover of the Sudan Report
  • August 23, 2013

    Illegal Abortion after Rape in Ecuador

    This 26-page report found that Ecuador’s criminal code limits women’s and girls’ reproductive rights by prohibiting abortion with few exceptions, even in the case of pregnancies that result from sexual violence. The criminal code imposes penalties including prison terms ranging from one to five years for women and girls who obtain abortions.

  • August 10, 2010

    Lack of Accountability for Reproductive Rights in Argentina

    This 52-page report documents the many obstacles women and girls face in getting the reproductive health care services to which they are entitled, such as contraception, voluntary sterilization procedures, and abortion after rape.

  • July 15, 2010

    Barriers to Fistula Prevention and Treatment in Kenya

    This 82-page report describes the devastating condition facing women with fistula in Kenya and the wide gap between government's policies to address reproductive health and the reality of women's daily lives.

  • January 28, 2010

    Access to Abortion for Women in Ireland

    This 57-page report details how women struggle to overcome the financial, logistical, physical, and emotional burdens imposed by restrictive laws and policies that force them to seek care abroad, without support from the state. Every year thousands of women and girls travel from Ireland to other European countries for abortions.

  • October 7, 2009

    Accountability in Maternal Health Care in India

    This 150-page report documents repeated failures both in providing health care to pregnant women in Uttar Pradesh state in northern India and in taking steps to identify and address gaps in care.

  • July 8, 2008

    Lack of Access to Therapeutic Abortion in Peru

    This 52-page report documents the difficulties women face in accessing therapeutic abortion – those needed to save the life of the woman or avoid serious health risks – in Peru’s public health system. While no reliable statistics are available on how many women have been turned away from a legal abortion, in interviews with women, healthcare providers, rights activists and government officials, Human Rights Watch found that women in general lack accurate information about their right to a legal abortion, and public health care professionals are often unclear about the intent of laws guaranteeing women access to legal abortions.