Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Court Grants Undocumented Teen Access to Abortion

Patricia Millett Patricia Millett
Andrew Cummings | 25 October, 2017, 00:59

"It's clear that their anti-woman, anti-abortion, anti-immigration agenda is unchecked by basic decency or even the bounds of the law", Amiri said in a prepared statement.

The administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said they found the decision to be a "troubling ruling that exceeds the U.S. Constitution and sets a unsafe precedent by opening our borders to any illegal children seeking taxpayer-supported, elective abortions". The majority ruling said the district court was "best suited to promptly determine in the first instance the appropriate dates for compliance with the injunction" and that the court would retain "full discretion to conduct proceedings and make any factual findings deemed necessary and appropriate to the district court's exercise of its equitable judgment".

Additionally, time is critical in Doe's case because under Texas state law, it is illegal to obtain an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Instead, the federal government had until October 31 to find a sponsor to take custody of the teen and transport her to an abortion clinic to have the procedure.

The final ruling comes after D.C.'s Court of Appeals temporarily blocked a judge's ruling last week to allow the girl to have an abortion, according to NPR. The federal government refuses to allow her to end her pregnancy. If HHS can not find a suitable sponsor in that time frame, the court's order states that the lower court may re-enter its order requiring the government to release her for an abortion, but that order would be subject to appeals.

"The majority seems to think that the United States has no good reason to want to transfer an unlawful immigrant minor to an immigration sponsor before the minor has an abortion". Two of the minors whose cases are summarized in the memo, which was shared with HuffPost, said they had been raped, but in both instances the officials casted doubt on their stories, writing that the 17-year-olds had initially said their pregnancy resulted from consensual sex. The attorney also said she could find a US sponsor, which is out of her hands and controlled by the government.

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The teen has been in US government custody for almost two months and two people have been ruled out as potential sponsors.

"Fortunately, today's decision rights a grave constitutional wrong by the government", wrote Judge Patricia Millett in a concurring opinion. The Government argues that this process - by which a minor is released from HHS custody to a sponsor - does not unduly burden the minor's right under Supreme Court to an abortion.

The ACLU said the teen is not seeking assistance from the government to obtain the abortion, as her court-appointed representatives will transport her to the health facility and private funds will pay for the procedure. If J.D. wants an abortion, they say, she is free to leave to return to her home country.

However, the shelter in which she is living - which houses unaccompanied immigrant minors and is run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement - refused to transport her to have the procedure.

Emails released in discovery by the ACLU show that Lloyd, who has no refugee resettlement experience but very strong anti-choice views (and believes that "Contraceptives are the cause of abortion"), show an aggressive push by the ORR to dissuade girls from obtaining abortions. Instead they took her to a counseling session at a religiously-affiliated, anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center. Other minors have received direct pressure from ORR officials ― including Lloyd himself ― not to get abortions.

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