A federal judge has ordered the government to allow a pregnant undocumented teen immigrant in detention in Texas to get an abortion after the Trump administration denied her access to one.
In a two-page decision, DC District Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered officials at the Department of Health and Human Services to allow the girl, identified only as Jane Doe, to be transported by a guardian or attorney “promptly and without delay” to an abortion provider to obtain state-mandated counseling and then to obtain the abortion.
The order also bars those officials from “interfering or obstructing” the girl’s access, from forcing her to make her decision known to anyone and from “retaliating” against her and the facility where she is over her decision.
The ACLU, representing the girl, filed a lawsuit late last week against the administration.
According to the lawsuit, the unaccompanied 17-year-old is staying in a Texas shelter under the Office of Refugee Resettlement of HHS, which takes custody of undocumented immigrant minors that come to the US without any parents or guardians. She is not able to leave, except to leave the US entirely.
While the teen had judicial permission, in the place of parental consent, and the funds to the get the abortion, the ACLU said, officials refused to transport her for the procedure or allow anyone else to do so. The lawsuit also alleged the girl was forced to visit a “religious, anti-abortion” center and her mother was notified over her objections.
In a statement, the Administration for Children and Families at HHS said the ruling was “troubling,” “exceeds the US Constitution and sets a dangerous precedent by opening our borders to any illegal children seeking taxpayer-supported, elective abortions.”
HHS is considering its next steps, the statement said.
“We are disheartened the ruling rewards ideologically motivated lawsuits filed in multiple courts by the ACLU and abortion advocates,” the statement said. “Though the order overrides the policies and procedures of the Office of Refugee Resettlement designed to protect children and their babies who have illegally crossed the border, we will continue to provide them with excellent health care and protect their well-being in all our facilities.”
The ACLU hailed the ruling.
“At last, our client will be able to get the care she needs without federal officials standing in the way,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Her courage and perseverance are incredible, but no one should have to go to court to get a safe, legal abortion. And no one should be held hostage to the extreme anti-abortion views of a handful of government officials.”
The judge warned that if the administration failed to comply with the order, officials could be found in contempt of court.