In 1995, Ruby Scott was 15 years old and unexpectedly pregnant. She did what most young women do in that situation – she talked with her parents. Before the family had taken Ruby to a doctor, her boyfriend’s parents had the State of Nebraska remove Ruby from her home to prevent her from having an abortion.
Around that time, attorney Jeanelle Kleveland was at an event where she heard about the case from the ACLU. She went up to an ACLU staff person, handed them a $20 bill, and said “make me a member.”
“All they wanted was to help their daughter,” Jeanelle, who became the cooperating attorney with the ACLU, said. “This family was doing what we want family to do- try to work things out.”
Like 90% of minors, Ruby was comfortable talking to her parents about wanting an abortion. In 2011, the Nebraska Legislature changed the law in Nebraska from requiring parental notification to requiring a young person to either have parental consent or if she is uncomfortable obtaining parental consent, seek permission from a court. We hope young people would feel comfortable talking to a parent; not all young women feel they can do so. For that reason and others, the ACLU opposes mandating parental involvement in abortion decisions.
Ruby’s case was settled in 1998. Like much of the ACLU’s work, it was only possible with the help of a cooperating attorney and a brave young person standing up for her rights.
2016 is the 50th anniversary of the ACLU of Nebraska. We will feature several memories from our five decades of defending freedom in the Cornhusker state here. Do you have a favorite memory? Share it with us!