After a 17-year-old unnamed immigrant was nearly kept from getting an abortion while in custody of United States officials, a lower court sided with the teenager, allowing her to terminate the pregnancy. But now that this case was reviewed by the Supreme Court, the original lower court’s ruling was thrown out.
As a result, President Donald Trump’s position on this issue prevailed. For now.
According to the unsigned opinion, justices claimed that the dispute was no longer in question since the teenager had the abortion, using that fact as a reason to throw the decision out. No dissents were registered.
“[W]hen ‘a civil case from a court in the federal system ... has become moot while on its way here,’ this Court’s ‘established practice’ is ‘to reverse or vacate the judgment below and remand with a direction to dismiss,'” the ruling read.
As an unaccompanied minor, the teenager known only as “Jane Doe” was being held by the the Department of Health and Human Services.
Minors are under the DHHS’s care until a family member can serve as a “sponsor.”
However, once she requested an abortion, Trump's administration did not let her go ahead with the procedure. A lower court eventually sided with her.
While the situation that led to the pregnancy is unclear, some people suggest that it may have been the product of rape.
According to Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec, the Supreme Court was right.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly made clear that the federal government is not required to facilitate abortions for minors and may choose policies favoring life over abortion. We look forward to continuing to press the government’s interest in the sanctity of life,” Kupec said.
Despite this claim, the justices’ latest decision does not prevent lower courts from continuing to preside over cases involving other detained immigrants in the same situation.
“Today’s decision doesn’t affect our ongoing efforts to ensure that all ‘Janes’ can get an abortion if they need one,” American Civil Liberties Union’s lawyer Brigitte Amiri confirmed.
Still, any earlier decision showing that lower courts kept the federal government from refusing the procedure has been wiped out. As such, they can no longer be cited in other cases as relevant precedents.
Hopefully, a large class action suit involving immigrants going through similar struggles will still be allowed to move forward, giving the courts another opportunity to uphold the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
While Trump may believe that this particular Supreme Court ruling is, in the long run, beneficial to his cause, the government’s attempt to block the immigrant from having access to the procedure clearly constitutes a power overreach.
Thankfully, this decision hasn’t completely erased the work of those trying to uphold the law on abortion.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque