Court hears case of undocumented teen seeking abortion in Texas
Court hears case of undocumented teen seeking abortion in Texas
If This Undocumented Pregnant Teen Can't Get An Abortion She Could Be Denied Citizenship Too Alex Wong Getty Images News Getty Images
21 October, 2017, 02:31
But the American Civil Liberties Unionargued that would deny her the chance to remain in the United States, and that finding a sponsor could take too long.
The teen, who is identified in court papers as "Jane Doe", is 15 weeks pregnant and has been seeking an abortion since late September.
The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on the grounds that a policy established by the Trump administration's Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that effectively bars undocumented minors in federal custody from accessing abortion is unconstitutional.
That, he said, would get the teen out of the facility where she is being held, allow her to obtain an abortion and leave the government out of it. Brigitte Amiri, a lawyer for the ACLU representing the girl, said a sponsor hadn't yet been found and that the process could take months. Earlier this week, D.C. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkanordered the ORR to let the woman have her abortion, and seemed shocked by the government's argument that she should have to return (in effect, self-deport) to her country of origin or carry the pregnancy to term.
"We are not putting an obstacle in her path", Dorsey said. If the teen had been raped, Dorsey said, a different policy would apply and Jane Doe would be able to obtain an abortion. It's unlikely the same majority that upheld the "undue burden" standard for state abortion restrictions in the Whole Women's Healthcase a year ago - another Texas case - will decide it's okay for the federal government to literally hold a woman in custody until it's too late for her to secure an abortion.
Following the hearing, the three-judge panel will decide if Jane Doe can have the abortion she has scheduled for Friday afternoon.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh opened the hearing by saying that the court did not want to be "pushed in 24 hours to make a sweeping constitutional ruling", but would rather "look to resolving the dispute".
The case went before a federal court in California last week, but the judge said she couldn't hear it because Doe was in Texas.
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Protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The D.C. appeals court is weighing the question Friday of whether Jane Doe, an unaccompanied minor who came to the country illegally, has the right to access an abortion. Doe was also required to have a sonogram, according to the ACLU.
"Americans United for Life is deeply disappointed that once again, an activist judge has declared abortion "access" more important than USA law and policy that prohibits federal funding and support of elective abortion", Glenn Foster urged. "Though the order overrides the policies and procedures of the Office of Refugee Resettlement created to protect children and their babies who have illegally crossed the border, we will continue to provide them with excellent health care and protect their well-being in all our facilities". The Office of Refugee Resettlement - a sub-division of HHS which oversees the shelter - was also refusing to transport the minor themselves. They seek to safeguard the health of a foreign, pregnant girl in their care - as well as the health of her child.
"Your honor, since 1973 the Supreme Court has held that the government can't stand in the way of a woman who wants an abortion". Lloyd reportedly said after taking over that he would release undocumented minors from shelters only for "pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling".
"We should avoid constitutional issues if possible", Judge Karen Henderson said. At least one potential sponsor has fallen through.
In oral arguments Friday, Amiri stressed the tight timeline for the decision. Dorsey tried to avoid acknowledging that the undocumented minor was a "person" protected under the U.S. Constitution, but finally conceded that she did have constitutional rights.
In the meantime, the case-which sits at the intersection of immigration law and abortion rights, two top priorities of Trump's administration-will be sent back to a lower federal court.
Attorneys general of Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and SC joined Texas in the brief.
After the hearing, Amiri toldNBC's Charlie Gile: "It's blatantly unconstitutional what the government is doing to Jane Doe".
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