The American Civil Liberties Union, which asked for the order, has accused federal officials in court documents of leveraging policies they revised in March that have allowed them to block the minor’s access to an abortion by not letting her leave a Texas shelter. A.C.L.U. lawyers say the minor immigrated to United States without her parents and then was apprehended.
“At last, our client will be able to get the care she needs without federal officials standing in the way,” Brigitte Amiri, a senior staff attorney for the A.C.L.U. said in a statement. “Her courage and perseverance are incredible, but no one should have to go to court to get a safe, legal abortion. And no one should be held hostage to the extreme anti-abortion views of a handful of government officials.”
Federal officials have argued in court documents that the government had not imposed an “undue burden” on the 17-year-old, but instead “exercised a legitimate choice to refuse to facilitate an abortion.” They say the young woman could request a voluntary departure from the United States, but has not done so.
Their supporters have also argued that immigrants who have immigrated illegally with no ties to the country do not have a constitutional right to abortion on demand.
In a brief filed in support of the federal officials, eight states — Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Carolina — worried that if the court allowed Jane Doe to have an abortion, “there will be no meaningful limit on the constitutional rights an unlawfully-present alien can invoke simply by trying to enter this country.”
In a statement, the Administration for Children and Families at the United States Department of Health and Human Services called the court’s decision “a troubling ruling that exceeds the U.S. Constitution and sets a dangerous precedent by opening our borders to any illegal children seeking taxpayer-supported, elective abortions.”
“We are disheartened the ruling rewards ideologically motivated lawsuits filed in multiple courts by the A.C.L.U. and abortion advocates,” the statement said.
In a telephone interview, Ms. Amiri said Wednesday’s decision applied only to Jane Doe.
However, she said that the A.C.L.U. had filed a motion asking the judge to allow the case to proceed as a class-action lawsuit seeking to prevent the federal government from interfering with access to abortion for people like Jane Doe. She estimated that there might be up to 1,000 unaccompanied, pregnant minors who have immigrated to the United States in federal custody at any given time.
The court has yet to rule on that motion, she said. (Pregnant adult women who are caught crossing the border and who seek an abortion are detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has a policy of allowing access, Ms. Amiri said.)
Continue reading the main story