A pregnant teenager in Texas has filed suit against her parents, who are attempting to force her to abort her baby. A Texas judge has granted a temporary restraining order against the parents to prevent the forced abortion while the case is unfolding.
The 16-year-old girl, known only as R.E.K. because she is a minor, claims that her parents are threatening her physically and emotionally to coerce her into getting an abortion. The lawsuit states:
Now comes plaintiff, R.E.K., a minor, complaining of defendants Jeffrey Koen and Denise Watts Koen, her natural mother and father (collectively “Defendants”), who are violating her federal constitutional rights to carry her child to term by coercing her to have an abortion with both verbal and physical threats and harassment.
R.E.K. is currently nine-weeks pregnant and had been living with her boyfriend's parents for seven months. The lawsuit explains, “For some time R.E.K. has resided at the home of her baby’s paternal grandparents because her mother routinely does not supervise her, frequently spending her evenings at a local bar, and R.E.K. avoided her father’s presence because of his tendency towards physical violence, which she has observed on multiple occasions.”
The lawsuit also claims that R.E.K.’s parents have been harassing the father of the child, as well as his family.
In the lawsuit, the teen claims her mom "invited the paternal grandparents [of her baby] to a bar for further discussion, where she suggested that she might slip her an abortion pill through deception." During that meeting, the teen's mom informed the paternal grandparents that she had undergone four abortions and that it was the proper thing to do.
Jeffrey Koen has threatened to cancel R.E.K.’s health insurance. He also told his daughter that decisions regarding the unborn baby were his — “end of story.”
As it became clear that R.E.K. and the father of the unborn child intended to keep the baby, Denise Koen told the boyfriend's parents that “no one should help them with anything and life should be as hard as possible on them now.”
Denise then sent her daughter to stay with her maternal grandparents, who are also coaxing her to have an abortion, and told her daughter that she cannot be held responsible for any violence that may befall the baby’s father at the hands of Jeffrey Koen.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Koen reportedly has been driving “menacingly” past the home where R.E.K. and the unborn child’s father have been staying and “staring threateningly” at the boy's parents. Jeff Koen has also texted his daughter that she “needs an a** whoopin’,” and that he needed to show his daughter that he has “the power … and [he] will exercise it.”
R.E.K. is being represented by the Texas Center for Defense of Life. "She is legally protected. They cannot drag her to get an abortion, force an abortion on our client," attorney Stephen Casey told Click2Houston.
Even under the Roe v. Wade decision, which defends abortion, women still have a legal right not to get an abortion. R.E.K. has a legal right to make her own decision. "What Roe established is minors have the choice. And when they do make the choice, folks are shocked that they want to carry the baby," noted Casey.
In fact, even Bellotti v. Baird, which found that a teenager has the right to make her own decisions regarding her reproductive health, provides a legal argument in support of R.E.K.'s argument not to have an abortion. As the National Center for Biotechnology Information writes, “The Bellotti decision reaffirmed Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri vs. Danforth decision that ruled state laws requiring all minors to have parental consent for abortion are unconstitutional.”
Of course, one may challenge this court decision as an infringement upon parental rights, while also recognizing that a decision allowing a child to choose to have an abortion against the wishes of her parents — no matter how morally flawed such a decision may be — also allows a child to choose life against the wishes of her parents.
But, it might be asked, should parents have a “right” to require their pregnant minor daughter to have an abortion, regardless of what court decisions or current law may say? To argue yes is to claim that “parental rights” include forcing their daughter to kill an innocent human being. Throughout millennia, the Christian and Jewish traditions have recognized that the great biblical commandment to “honor thy father and mother” does not require the child to engage in whatever gravely sinful activities the parents may demand. And both traditions have also long understood abortion to be a violation of another great commandment — “Thou shalt not kill.”
R.E.K.’s parents did not show up to court on Tuesday when the judge filed the restraining order, but the judge announced that he has asked Child Protective Services to investigate them.
And the boyfriend's parents have agreed to advocate for the pregnant teen and will support her, their son, and the unborn baby.
"It was an unexpected pregnancy, but we don't want that lapse in judgment to be compounded by the emotional trauma she'll suffer for the rest of her life from having a forced abortion by her parents and the death to her unborn child," Casey said.
The plaintiffs and the defedants are scheduled to be back in court on Friday afternoon for an injunction hearing.