After the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit claiming the Trump administration was preventing a 17-year-old undocumented minor in its custody from terminating her pregnancy, a federal judge in Washington ordered the government to allow the girl to go through the procedure.
District Judge Tanya Chutkan even said she was “astounded” the federal officials had denied Jane Doe to get an abortion.
“Just because she’s here illegally doesn’t mean she doesn’t have constitutional rights,” she said.
Meanwhile, the ruling is being hailed as a major victory for immigrant rights
“We never should have had to fight this in the first place,” said Brigitte Amiri, a senior ACLU staff attorney representing the unnamed teenager. “It should never have been something that we needed to go to court over.”
The Trump administration is reportedly keeping a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant living in a government shelter in Brownsville, Texas, from getting an abortion — even though she has a court’s permission and the money for the procedure.
The girl, identified only as Jane Doe in court documents, is one of the thousands of minors who have entered the United States from Central America and are currently under the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The teen reportedly obtained a federal judge’s permission to terminate her pregnancy without parental consent on Sept. 25 and was supposed to see the doctor three days later. However, the shelter officials refused to transport her to the medical facility.
According to the ACLU, which recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of the teenager, Jane Doe is just one of many young girls in federally funded shelters being forced to continue with their pregnancies under a new policy shift.
“It’s unprecedented, it’s unconstitutional and it’s also unconscionable,” said the teen’s lawyer and senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, Brigitte Amiri. “Blocking access to abortion for unaccompanied minors is downright cruel.”
Most of these young girls brave perilous journeys before finally crossing the border. Some of them are even sexually assaulted. However, even the victims of rape and incest and those who have a way to pay for the procedure are being prevented from getting an abortion.
“Federal officials have no right to prevent this young woman from getting the care she needs,” Amiri added. “We've filed suit in federal court in Washington in the hope that we can put an end to these unconscionable delays.”
Moreover, as Politico reported, the government is doing much more than denying these minors abortions. The officials from Health and Human Services Department are reportedly going as far as to forcing immigrant teens to visit religiously affiliated centers that counsel women against ending their pregnancies.
“What’s especially disturbing for us about this case is that the child is in the custody of ORR [the Office of Refugee Resettlement], so she has no other choice, and she is stuck in a form of custody or detention,” commented Michelle Brane, the director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission.
Meanwhile, Jane Doe is scheduled to appear in the U.S. District Court in Washington. She is already 14 weeks pregnant and Texas does not allow women to have an abortion after 20 weeks.
Thumbnail/Banner: Pixabay, Stocksnap