The Office of Refugee Resettlement had prevented the 17-year-old, identified only as Jane Doe and who is being held at a shelter for unaccompanied undocumented minors in Texas, from getting an abortion.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit Friday, in a Washington, D.C. federal court, challenging the “obstruction” and the Trump administration’s abortion ban for undocumented pregnant girls who are held in the government-funded shelters. The Trump abortion ban, which was revealed in documents filed in a San Francisco court case, has been in effect since March and prohibits abortions for pregnant girls who entered the United States alone and are in immigration custody.
Under the Administration’s policy, shelters cannot release minors for abortion-related services without approval of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. Bob Egelko reports the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Scott Lloyd, has said he will allow release detainees only for “pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling. . . . My priority is unborn children, and there will be no more abortions.”
According to Egelko, pregnant minors in the shelters are ordered to visit religiously sponsored “crisis pregnancy centers” where they are shown fetal sonograms, warned of the dangers of abortions and pressured to give birth. In addition, Lloyd’s office contacts the girls’ parents in their homelands to tell them their daughters are pregnant. And Lloyd himself has visited shelters to try to talk individual residents out of having abortions.
The Justice Department has said that Jane Doe’s rights were not being violated because she was free to leave the shelter and return to her homeland.
In her order, Judge Chutkan — an Obama nominee, wrote the government must “promptly and without delay” allow the 17-year-old to “be transported to an abortion provider closest to the shelter where she is being held, closest to J.D.’s shelter in order to obtain the counseling required by [Texas] state law by October 19, 2017, and to obtain the abortion procedure on October 20, 2017 and/or October 21, 2017.”
Chutkan’s order also restrained the government from “interfering with or obstructing [the teen’s] access to abortion counseling or an abortion.”
BuzzFeed reports Chutkan said, “Just because she’s here illegally doesn’t mean she doesn’t have constitutional rights.”
The ACLU argues the right to abortion is covered by the guarantee of due process of law, which is provided, under the Constitution, to any “person” in the United States, and not just to U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. Judge Chutkan’s order has the potential to create a right to abortion for anyone on earth who enters the United States illegally, no matter how briefly.
UPDATE: The Associated Press reports the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, on Thursday, temporarily stayed Judge Chutkan’s ruling ordering the Trump administration to allow the illegal alien teenager to obtain an abortion.
The Court of Appeals still allowed the teenager to be taken to a counseling meeting with the doctor who would perform the abortion.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services filed an appeal Wednesday night shortly after Judge Chutkan ruled in favor of the teenager.