A federal appeals court late Friday ruled that the Trump administration can, for now, block an undocumented teen in federal custody from having an abortion.
Friday's order in the highly-watched case gives the US Department of Health and Human Services until Tuesday evening to secure a sponsor to remove the girl from federal custody.
Though the D.C. Circuit put Chutkan's order on hold Thursday pending its resolution of the case, Amiri and Dorsey confirmed that Doe underwent pre-abortion counseling the same day, as required by Texas law.
The case involves a pregnant undocumented 17-year-old now being held in a government-funded shelter in South Texas. The name of that country has been withheld to protect the teen's privacy.
A split decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the government to secure a sponsor for the teen by 5 p.m. on October 31 and said the teen, referred to as Jane Doe, would be able to get an abortion when in the sponsor's custody.
In other words, while federal money is generally prohibited from funding abortion due to the Hyde Amendment (which bars taxpayer funding except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother), immigrants here illegally for abortion could stay on the taxpayer's dime.
Reverend Daniel Kanter, a clergyman in Dallas, Texas, who is chair of the clergy advocacy board for Planned Parenthood, said he didn't know why people of faith aren't more concerned about the government "muscling a young woman into personal decisions" between herself, her doctor, and her God. The Justice Department lawyers also argued that Supreme Court precedent guarantees only the choice to have an abortion, not the right to then receive one.
However, in reality, the government, motivated by anti-choice ideology, has obstructed her path to abortion by forbidding her to be transported to an abortion clinic. The Trump administration filed an appeal, and the federal appeals court in DC temporarily halted the order requiring ORR to allow Doe to go to her medical appointments. "Shame on this judge for overruling compassionate care and instead mandating that the US government help facilitate an abortion for a teenage girl".
"Not surprisingly, the ACLU seized this opportunity along with their abortion allies to mandate that taxpayers facilitate her abortion", she urged.
Amiri argued that the government is entitled to take actions in the teen's best interests, but that here it is acting against her wishes to have the procedure. Issuing that approval, Dorsey argued, would constitute facilitation, as would any post-abortion healthcare for Doe.
The policy change came weeks after the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican who campaigned on promises to clamp down on illegal immigration and seek new restrictions on women's access to abortions. The government has said it does not want to facilitate the procedure. Judge Brett Kavanaugh said the judges would announce their decision "soon enough", and remarked that the court was being pushed to quickly "make a sweeping constitutional ruling one way or another".
Brigitte Amiri, a lawyer for the ACLU, accused the government of having "no shame and no regard for a woman's health". Though he probed both attorneys on the process for sponsorship, neither could provide a specific timeframe for how long that would take.
The pregnant teenager faces a "cruel clock that is ticking rapidly", said Bethany Van Kampen, a policy analyst for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, given that Texas prohibits most abortions after 20 weeks. She has already waited for several weeks while her case has gone through the legal system, her lawyer said. He asked again and again about whether a sponsor could be found to take custody of J.D., effectively mooting the case in the process.
Although it is unclear how Jane Doe became pregnant, the decision for the federal government to deny care appears particularly cruel given the fact that between 60 and 80 percent of migrant women and girls are sexually assaulted on their way to the United States through the southern border, according to a 2012 Women's Refugee Commission report. "There's no reason why her immigration status should diminish her constitutional rights", said Amiri, according to livestreamed audio of the hearing. The HHS Administration for Children and Families also warned that Chutkan's ruling "exceeds the US Constitution and sets a unsafe precedent by opening our borders to any illegal children seeking taxpayer-supported, elective abortions".
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