Abortion case involving immigrant teen stirs emotions

Court Delays Abortion For An Undocumented Teenager After The DOJ Stepped InMARTIN BERNETTI  AFP  Getty Images

As is its practice with unaccompanied minors from Central America apprehended at the border, the government turned Doe over to a private shelter run by a company contracted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And although she has relatives in the United States, she may not find a sponsor in time to terminate her pregnancy. The order would have required Doe's custody center in Texas to transport her to a scheduled appointment for the procedure on Friday or Saturday.

"However", she added, "we are deeply saddened and troubled that the court has nonetheless ordered the government to facilitate and be complicit in a young girl's abortion by locating an abortion-friendly sponsor for the teen, and has favored access to elective abortion over USA law and policy and the life of an unborn child".

Abortion-rights advocates have ridiculed this argument, saying the chance of getting an abortion in the U.S. was unlikely to be the motive for a woman or girl to undergo the hardships and dangers of illegal passage to the U.S. Dr. Anjani Kolahi, a family medicine physician in Albuquerque, New Mexico, noted that abortions are available in Mexico, despite bans in many of its states.

The appeals court remanded the case to the district court and said that should HHS not be able to secure a sponsor, the order said the lower court could re-enter its temporary restraining order, and the government could then appeal again. "All defendants must do is to step aside and stop blocking the door". "They took a position that was basically indefensible and they couldn't defend it", Amiri said.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is under the HHS umbrella, has been at the center of the case as well. "But there sure are losers", Millett wrote. But HHS officials have refused to transport her or release her into the custody of her guardian to obtain the abortion.

"As of today, J.D. has already been forced by the government to continue an unwanted pregnancy for nearly four weeks, and now, as a result of this order, must continue to carry that pregnancy for multiple more weeks", Millet wrote.

The government says the 17-year-old, who entered this country in September, could solve the problem herself by voluntarily leaving or finding a sponsor in the United States to take custody of her. Beeler said her court was the wrong venue for the case, leading lawyers for the teenager to bring the case to the Washington, D.C., federal court.

"This administration has no shame and no regard for a woman's health or decisions", said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

They say the teen, who is from Central America, was abused by her parents and can not easily return home.

The fact that HHS officials had sent the young woman to abortion counseling against her will but were unwilling to comply with her desire for an abortion apparently irked Judge Chutkan.

Texas has enacted many restrictions on abortion access, including a requirement that unmarried girls under 18 need parental permission to get an abortion. "The Statue of Liberty's promise to those "homeless" "yearning to breathe free" is not a lie".

"There are no winners in cases like these", said Judge Patricia Millet in a 10-page dissenting opinion. J.D. retains her basic rights to personhood. A spokesperson for the Office of Refugee Resettlement said the girl and her unborn baby are receiving excellent care at the shelter. "When they decide that their dire circumstances leave them in no position to carry a pregnancy to term, the Constitution forbids the government from directly or effectively prohibiting their exercise of that right in the manner it has done here".



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