The federal government is seeking to block a legal abortion procedure for an immigrant teen
A 17-year-old immigrant from Central America, who fled the dangers of her home country, is now facing new dangers here in the United States. That’s because the federal government is trying to force the undocumented teen, known as Jane Doe to protect her privacy, to have the baby by blocking her from having a lawful abortion.
Because just reading the words “undocumented” and “abortion” gets people hot and bothered, and brings out the keyboard warriors who rush in with rash judgments and wild opinions, let’s clear up a few things.
First, abortions are legal in the United States. Legal.
Second, undocumented doesn’t mean illegal because people cannot be illegal, and there are procedures for obtaining documentation after coming into the country. While that process is underway, undocumented immigrants are entitled to certain rights.
Third, the girl is only 17-years-old and a child herself. She escaped a dangerous situation in her home country, sought safety in the United States, and wants to exercise her legal rights so that she can have a chance at a decent life. But the federal government is hell bent on preventing her from doing so and, instead, wants to force her to unwillingly have the baby. Sounds a lot like a dystopian novel, doesn’t it?
Except that it’s the current reality under a new federal policy that allows the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) – which is responsible for caring for unaccompanied immigrant minors when they enter the country – to veto an unaccompanied minors’ abortion decision, and the agency is making every effort to do just that.
The new ORR policy is the creation of E. Scott Lloyd, who was appointed by Trump earlier this year. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), before becoming head of ORR, Lloyd was senior policy coordinator for the Knights of Columbus, an anti-abortion Catholic charity, and he is the founder of a law firm that specializes in providing counsel “informed by the particular concerns of families and institutions that must navigate the ‘thickets of the law’ while remaining faithful to Church teaching.” Umm… a law firm that combines the law and religion? There are so many things wrong with that, we’re not even sure where to start. Actually, the separation of church and state in the First Amendment is a pretty good place.
The federal government’s obsession with stopping this teen from exercising her medical right to an abortion is alarming, to say the least. After a federal judge ordered the government to allow the teen to undergo the abortion procedure, government lawyers filed an emergency motion asking a D.C. appeals court to delay the procedure. The appeals court agreed to delay the procedure unless the Department of Health and Human Services can find a sponsor for the teen by October 31. If a sponsor is secured, however, then she can lawfully choose to have an abortion as provided by state law.
Not only is forcing teens to continue a pregnancy against their will unconstitutional, but it also shows the hypocrisy of the pro-life movement, which is more concerned with the life of an unborn fetus than the life of an actual living child.
According to the ACLU’s lawsuit on behalf of the teen, the government’s attempts to prevent lawful abortions and force minors to continue pregnancies to term are pervasive, and Lloyd “has personally contacted one or more unaccompanied immigrant minors who was pregnant and seeking abortion, and discussed with them their decision to have an abortion.”
Because Texas law bans most abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, and Jane Doe is currently 15 weeks pregnant, the clock is ticking.
“They’re holding her hostage,” Brigitte Amiri, lead attorney on the case, told The New York Times. “This is the most insane case I’ve ever worked on in my career.”
Buckle up, folks. Fighting off the federal government’s attempts to make the “Handmaid’s Tale” a dystopian reality don’t seem to be ending any time soon.
UPDATE: On Tuesday afternoon, the ACLU reported that the appeals court ruled today in favor of Jane Doe, saying: “Late Friday, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order that sidestepped the serious constitutional questions and allowed the government to further delay her ability to obtain an abortion. Sunday evening, the ACLU filed an emergency petition for en banc review which asks all of the judges on the D.C. Circuit Court to review the panel’s order. Today, the full court granted that request, reversed the panel’s decision, and sent the case back down to the district court for a new order requiring the Trump administration to allow Jane Doe to get the abortion care she wants.”