Judge Orders U.S. Govt. to Assist Immigrant Teen Seeking Abortion
A federal judge Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to allow a detained 17-year old pregnant undocumented immigrant to undergo an abortion “promptly and without delay.” The pregnant teen came into the U.S. illegally.
Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled in a motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after the U.S. government refused to give the pregnant teenager a temporary release pass in order for her to be transported to a clinic for the procedure.
The teen is currently being held in Texas by federal immigration authorities which is contracted by U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. HHS is responsible for sheltering children who come to the U.S. illegally. The teen’s name has been withheld because she is considered a minor.
Judge Chutkan said during the brief hearing that she was “astounded” by the government’s position and her argument with Deputy Assistant Attorney General Scott Stewart was considerably contentious at Wednesday’s hearing.
“Residents of this shelter receive medical treatment all the time,” Chutkan said in the hearing Wednesday. “Why is this any different? Why is the fact that this is an abortion any different than if she was getting her tonsils out?”
Government lawyers later filed an emergency motion to the U.S. Appeals Court asking a stay of the judge’s ruling.
Stewart argued in court that the teenager known as ‘Jane Doe’ was free to go back to her native country and have her abortion there and the U.S. government should not be forced to facilitate abortions, but Judge Chutkan challenged Stewart on constitutional grounds for singling out abortions.
“Residents of this shelter receive medical treatment all the time,” Chutkan said during the hearing. “Why is this any different? Why is the fact that this is an abortion any different than if she was getting her tonsils out?”
The teen is said to be about 15 weeks pregnant. Texas law bans most abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and requires the woman seeking to terminate the pregnancy to meet with a doctor before her abortion procedure. Texas also requires minors to have consent by a parent or a waiver given by a judge.
The facility where the teen is being held sent her to a crisis pregnancy center which is known to have religious policies and is against abortions. The facility will not turn the teen over to the proper authorities even though attorneys for the teen obtained a waiver and scheduled several appointments with a doctor.
“I do not want to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against my will,” Jane Doe said in court documents.
Scott Lloyd who is the director of Health and Human Services’ office that supervises facilities for unaccompanied minors, said in an email message that agencies that are funded by the government should not support abortion but provide necessary pregnancy services and life affirming counseling.
Lloyd who met the girl during a visit to the facility where the teen is being held said he wants to offer the teen help by connecting her to good families that would help her carry her pregnancy to full term.
ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri said after the hearing that the government overstepped its boundaries. “They took a position that was basically indefensible and they couldn’t defend it,” Amiri said.
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