ACLU Takes Young Immigrant's Abortion Fight to DC Circuit

Court Delays Abortion For An Undocumented Teenager After The DOJ Stepped InMARTIN BERNETTI  AFP  Getty Images

Court Delays Abortion For An Undocumented Teenager After The DOJ Stepped InMARTIN BERNETTI AFP Getty Images

A US appeals court has further delayed an undocumented pregnant teenage migrant's efforts to obtain an abortion.

Unwilling to hang its hopes on the selection of a sponsor, meanwhile, the ACLU called this delay "an exercise in futility that serves no goal other than to keep J.D. pregnant longer". Two of the minors whose cases are summarized in the memo, which was shared with HuffPost, said they had been raped, but in both instances the officials casted doubt on their stories, writing that the 17-year-olds had initially said their pregnancy resulted from consensual sex.

According to the Austin-American Statesman, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has given the Trump administration until October 31 to find a relative or "qualified adult" for Doe to be her sponsor in the U.S., which would remove her from federal custody to obtain the abortion. Texas law bans most abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and requires women seeking an abortion to meet with the doctor who will perform the procedure a day beforehand.

Emails released in discovery by the ACLU show that Lloyd, who has no refugee resettlement experience but very strong anti-choice views (and believes that "Contraceptives are the cause of abortion"), show an aggressive push by the ORR to dissuade girls from obtaining abortions.

Hays, legal director for Jane's Due Process, said the girl obtained a judicial bypass allowing her to have an abortion without parental consent on September 25 but is now more than 15 weeks pregnant. (When it learned that HHS had taken Doe to visit a crisis pregnancy center in Texas, the ACLU filed a motion to add Doe as a plaintiff in the California case-the judge denied the request, but ruled that the government had "no justification for restricting [J.D.]'s access.") But under Trump, and more specifically, under HHS and ORR director Scott Lloyd, the situation has worsened.

According to the New York Times, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ruled on Wednesday the minor could legally receive an abortion and would suffer increased risk to her health if she were not allowed transportation to a medical facility for the procedure.

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The teen, whose name has been withheld, has already received a state court order permitting her to have the abortion.

A White House statement said the Trump administration "stands ready to expedite her return to her home country". "Texas must not become a sanctuary state for abortions". "The court has turned a blind eye to the true injustice of abortion, set a deadline for the death of a child, and risked turning the USA - one of the few countries in the world to allow late-term abortions - into a destination for abortion-seekers". "But there sure are losers", Millett wrote.

Appointed to the court by President Barack Obama, Millet closes her 10-page dissent with a biting slap at the government's conduct.

The panel's decision noted that government lawyers acknowledged that the girl, who is in the United States illegally, "possesses a constitutional right to obtain an abortion in the United States". Her attorneys argue that an abortion gets riskier as her pregnancy progresses. "Forcing her to continue an unwanted pregnancy just in the hopes of finding a sponsor that has not been found in the past six weeks sacrifices J.D.'s constitutional liberty, autonomy, and personal dignity for no justifiable governmental reason".

The government has argued in Garza that it is simply declining to facilitate an abortion.

"Weeks have passed with no resolution for Jane Doe", said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

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