Published: Sat, October 21, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Court blocks undocumented teen from getting abortion, for now

Court blocks undocumented teen from getting abortion, for now

Attorneys for the Trump administration credited an interest in promoting childbirth Friday in asking the D.C. Circuit to keeping an abortion off limits to a teenager whom immigration authorities apprehended last month at the Texas border. The attorneys said that Doe "still has a number of weeks in which she could legally and safely obtain an abortion" and asked for more time for her claim to be adjudicated before the abortion makes the decision irreversible.

Federal judges weighing the case of a Central American teenager seeking to end her pregnancy seemed inclined on Friday to resolve the issue without wading into the explosive mix of immigration and abortion law - but at the same time acknowledged that such action may be impossible.

The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in a 2-1 decision to find and release the 17-year-old girl - known in court documents only Jane Doe - to a sponsor by 5 p.m. on October 31.

Jane Doe is now 15-weeks pregnant, so the clock is indeed running out on access to the legal abortion she should have been able to have some time ago. That would facilitate the abortion without involving the Department of Health and Human Services.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has taken up the girl's case, said in a court filing that the Office of Refugee Resettlement revised its procedures in March to mandate that abortions for under-age detainees required office approval.

Scott Stewart, a deputy assistant to the attorney general, insisted that pregnant undocumented minors from other countries are not entitled to abortions, adding that opening the door to that right "would significantly infringe on the government's interests in preserving life and protecting national boundaries". She also argued that telling Doe the way to obtain an abortion was to leave the country is, in essence, penalizing her. Doe's lawyers are not asking the government to pay for the procedure or arrange the transportation.

A state judge previously ruled that the teenager could get an abortion without the parental permission required by Texas law, but she and her lawyers say federal officials have refused to allow her to travel to a clinic.

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Gov't: If undocumented teen wants an abortion, she can agree to go back to her home country.

Court documents about the case include a sworn declaration by Jane Doe, in which she describes her circumstances.

Meanwhile in Washington, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan set the stage for appellate oral arguments Friday with an order for HHS not to prevent Doe from getting an abortion. Once out of the facility, she could presumably seek an abortion without further interference. The Justice Department lawyers also argued that Supreme Court precedent guarantees only the choice to have an abortion, not the right to then receive one. Lloyd reportedly said after taking over that he would release undocumented minors from shelters only for "pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling".

And again, it was clear the government's lawyers saw nothing odd about in effect arguing it had the right to imprison a woman to stop her from exercising a constitutional right that even incarcerated criminals have access to. Defendants told my mother about my pregnancy and are trying to force me to tell her as well. 16.

The three-judge panel was comprised of two Republican appointees and one Democratic appointee, Patricia Millett, who was the sole dissenter. Although Doe had the mandatory pre-abortion counseling on Thursday, Texas law requires that counseling must be done with the same doctor performing the abortion. Additionally, fewer doctors perform abortions in the later weeks of the legal time frame.

Balancing the harm that would come to Jane Doe ― potentially being forced to carry a child to term against her will ― compared with the government simply being ordered to make a phone call and allowing Jane Doe to go to her appointment, Amiri said, is "quite easy" in this case.

After Doe won a temporary restraining order from Judge Chutkan on Wednesday, a representative for the Administration for Children and Families said the agency was troubled that the court would set "a unsafe precedent by opening our borders to any illegal children seeking taxpayer-supported, elective abortions".

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