Teen Sues Parents, Fighting Off Abortion
HOUSTON (CN) - A 16-year-old sued her parents, claiming they are trying "to coerce her to have an abortion."
R.E.K. sued her parents, Jeffrey Koen and Denise Watts Koen, in Harris County Court.
"R.E.K., plaintiff, is a 16-year-old girl, who is nine (9) weeks pregnant," the complaint states. "She does not want an abortion but her mother and father are attempting to coerce her to have an abortion."
R.E.K. says she lived with the baby's father, her 16-year-old boyfriend, and his parents, for some time "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."
R.E.K. says she told her boyfriend's mom she might be pregnant on Jan. 18.
"Both plaintiff and the baby's father, E.L.M., informed her they intended to keep the child and parent the child," the complaint states. "Upon defendant Denise Koen finding out about the pregnancy, she responded that she would 'take care of it,' that it wasn't R.E.K.'s choice, that the two minor parents had no idea what to do with their lives, and that she would make the decision for them.
"Defendant Denise Koen further stated that she 'hated to make this decision for her/them but it's the right thing to do.'"
R.E.K. says her boyfriend's parents met with her mother to discuss it.
"At that meeting, on 1/20/13, Denise informed them that R.E.K. having the baby was the biggest mistake of her life, that Denise had already had four abortions, and it was the right thing to do in this situation," the complaint states.
"Denise invited the paternal grandparents to a bar for further discussion, where she suggested that she might slip R.E.K. an abortion pill through deception."
R.E.K. says a doctor confirmed her pregnancy on Jan. 21.
She says her father "became extremely angry" when he found out the next day.
"He stated he was going to take her to have an abortion and that the decision was his, end of story," the complaint states. "He also made a threat, saying he was not going to pay for health insurance for his daughter to have health insurance to have a baby and was going to look into canceling the insurance."
R.E.K. says her mother made her move back home on Jan. 27, and took away her phone.
The next day, R.E.K. says, she was forced to stay home from school "in an attempt to get her to have an abortion."
R.E.K. adds: "On 2/1/2013, defendant Jeffrey Koen came to the house of the paternal grandparents and demanded that plaintiff 'stop playing house' and have the abortion.
"He was screaming and yelling at her, making verbal threats to enter the paternal grandparents' house and 'drag her little ass out of there' if he had to. He said he would put a stop to this today.
"Defendant Denise Koen was contacted, who said she was 'out of it' and that R.E.K. would have to deal with defendant Jeffrey Koen.
"She later said that evening that now because the two minors had decided to parent the baby that 'no one should help them with anything and life should be as hard as possible on them now.'
"Both Denise and Jeffrey Koen are Joint Managing Conservators with Denise having the exclusive right to designate the primary residence."
R.E.K. says she was sent to her grandmother's house in Alabama on Feb. 3.
She says her grandmother "also agreed with defendants that an abortion was the right option, partly stemming from her actions in making Denise have abortions."
R.E.K. says her father has been relentless in pressuring her to abort her baby.
"On 2/8/13, Jeffrey Koen texted R.E.K. to tell her she 'needs an ass whoopin,' that he said that to 'show [R.E.K.] [he had] the power ... and [he] will exercise it.' She responded 'why do you want power, because I'm not doing what you want in life and that's for me to get an abortion?' to which he replied 'That would be the smart responsible thing to do.'
"Jeffrey Koen then went to file charges on the baby's father, who is sixteen (16) years old also, in apparent retaliation for R.E.K.'s choice not to have an abortion." (Brackets, parentheses and ellipsis in complaint.)
R.E.K. claims that her dad drove by her boyfriend's parents' house later that day and stared threateningly at them.
"R.E.K., the baby's father, and the paternal grandparents live in fear of physical danger from defendant Jeffrey Koen," the complaint states.
R.E.K. seeks an injunction to stop her parents from forcing her to have an abortion, and a declaration that "she has the right, under federal constitutional law, to make her own reproductive decisions, including the decision to carry her child to term and give birth."
She is represented by Stephen Casey with the Texas Center For Defense of Life in Georgetown, Texas and Michael Casaretto of Brenham.
Casey told Courthouse News in an interview that R.E.K. was referred to his organization by The Justice Foundation in San Antonio.
He said R.E.K's parents' attitude towards her baby is indicative of a cultural problem.
"Our nation has drifted away from a culture of life," Casey told Courthouse News. "We used to have a saying, made popular by the Titanic, of women and children first - that when there's a crisis situation we protect women and we protect children. And deciding to force her into this abortion situation, her parents have not looked out for what's going to physically protect her, what's going to emotionally protect her.
"They're looking out for what's convenient for them," Casey said. "But that doesn't change the fact that she wants to carry the child to term, she has a right to do that, and that her baby in her womb is a human life. And she has recognized that and she wants to protect her baby, and she's being pressured, coerced and forced to do the exact opposite.
"So it's a culture issue and a convenience issue.
"Now what needs to happen in situations like this is the family walks with her through the natural consequences of her decision. Abortion's not a natural consequence, it's a choice of convenience. And we do not support that because it takes the life of the child and emotionally traumatizes the mother for the rest of her life."