ACLU Asks Appeals Court to Reconsider Delay on Unaccompanied Minor's Abortion

Illustration via Max Fleishman

Illustration via Max Fleishman

Attorney General Ken Paxton today issued the following statement following a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in the case of an unlawfully-present minor alien's request to have an abortion in Texas.

The 17-year-old from Central America is under federal custody in a shelter in Brownsville.

Last month, the minor illegally entered the USA from Mexico without her parents and is in the legal custody of HHS, which is caring for her and her unborn child at a shelter in Texas.

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. "Entirely shutting off a person's access to abortion services is the greatest conceivable "undue burden" on a person's constitutional right to an abortion - it prohibits her from exercising her rights at all". "The fact that J.D. entered the United States without proper documentation does not mean that she has no legal right to stay here to be safe from abuse or persecution".

The majority in Garza stated in its ruling, "The Government argues that, pursuant to standard HHS policy, a sponsor may be secured for a minor unlawful in HHS custody, including for a minor who is seeking an abortion". Chutkan ruled that the government must either take the 17-year-old expectant mother the abortion clinic, or allow her guardian to take her, according to Politico.

Time is running out for Jane Doe, an unaccompanied, undocumented minor who only has a few weeks to obtain an abortion before she becomes 20 weeks, at which point Texas law bans the procedure.

In an official response, attorneys defending the Trump administration urged judges to deny the petition, arguing the Court of Appeals will have the opportunity to review the decision after the October 31 deadline if Jane Doe, as she's referred to in court filings, isn't assigned a sponsor by then.

The three-judge panel for the appeal of his decision said the girl could return to Texas, where Judge Chutkan ruled to permit the procedure and access to state-sponsored facilities, in 30 days if the Trump Administration could not find a private provider to perform the abortion. Judge Brett Kavanaugh said that releasing the teen to a sponsor seemed to be the best option. "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 US - one of the few countries in the world to allow late-term abortions - into a destination for abortion-seekers". "But there sure are losers".

Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, said the delay aided the federal government's overreach in preventing Doe from getting an abortion.

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". Attorneys hope to convince the court to hold an emergency rehearing before the end of the month.

"Even if she has that right, we don't have to facilitate it", said Catherine H. Dorsey, the government lawyer representing HHS in the case.

"As of today, J.D. has already been forced by the government to continue an unwanted pregnancy for nearly four weeks, and now, as a result of this order, must continue to carry that pregnancy for multiple more weeks", Millet wrote.

"The government has been under a statutory obligation to attempt to find an appropriate sponsor for more than six weeks and thus far none has been found", the petition states.

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