September 26, 2020 | News | No Comments
As reproductive rights advocates rallied outside the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday morning in support of an undocumented 17-year-old seeking an abortion, an ACLU attorney attended a federal court hearing on the teenager’s behalf to challenge attempts by Trump administration officials to prevent her from terminating her pregnancy.
The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on the grounds that a policy established by the Trump administration’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that effectively bars undocumented minors in federal custody from accessing abortion is unconstitutional.
Three weeks after the teenager from Central America, referred to only as Jane Doe, was initially scheduled to visit an abortion provider in Texas—after receiving a waiver from a state court, which is required because she is a minor—a D.C. District Court judge on Wednesday ruled that she must be allowed to have the procedure.
However, the federal government—which claims it is posing no undue burden on the teen by blocking her attempts to abort her pregnancy—immediately filed an appeal, prompting the D.C. Circuit Court to issue an administrative stay on Thursday. The decision temporarily delayed Jane Doe’s abortion, which had been rescheduled for Friday, Oct. 20.
Instead, on Friday morning, the appeals court—reportedly for the first time—allowed audio of the hearing to be livestreamed online. As ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri explained to the court why the government’s actions have violated the teen’s constitutional rights, the group summarized the arguments on Twitter.
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After the hearing, Amiri told NBC‘s Charlie Gile: “It’s blatantly unconstitutional what the government is doing to Jane Doe. They are holding her hostage and preventing her from having an abortion—and also, the harm to her is so great, and the harm to the government is nonexistent.”
Reporters and pro-choice advocates who listened in highlighted flaws in arguments made by the government attorney.
Advocates also pointed to the case as an example of the Trump administration’s broader efforts to limit women’s healthcare, particularly access to reproductive care.
“What this administration is doing to Jane is what they’d do to every woman in this country if they could,” said writer and women’s advocate Sarah Lipton-Lubet. “This is true 100%,” Arimi responded, following the hearing.
While Jane Doe remains approximately 15 weeks pregnant (Texas bans abortion after 20 weeks), the Circuit Court has yet to issue a final ruling on the case.