WASHINGTON (CN) – Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation pressed ahead Friday with their efforts to block the Trump administration from coercing unaccompanied minors into carrying unwanted pregnancies to term.
The ACLU sued the government nearly one year ago on Oct. 13 after discovering that a 17-year-old had been fighting for abortion access since immigration officials detained her at the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas Sept. 11, 2017.
Identified only as Jane Doe, the unaccompanied minor eventually secured an abortion after the court intervened, and the ACLU was able to secure abortions for another three minors.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued an injunction in the case on March 30 that prevents the Trump administration from blocking abortion access for immigrant minors, after which the government appealed.
The D.C. Circuit is set to hear oral arguments in the case on Sept. 26.
In the meantime, the ACLU filed an amended complaint in court Friday on the merits of the case, asking the court to determine whether a policy of coercing minors to carry pregnancies to term, forcing them to go to anti-abortion pregnancy centers and trying to block abortion access violates their constitutional rights.
According to the amended complaint, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a subdivision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, forces pregnant minors to visit religious, anti-abortion pregnancy centers and undergo unnecessary ultrasounds after state judges grant them permission to have abortions without parental consent.
The Sept. 21 complaint details one instance where the Office of Refugee Resettlement intervened after a minor obtained a judicial bypass, received the required counseling and had taken the first dose of medication to induce a medical abortion.
Administration officials then forced the minor “to go to an ’emergency room of a local hospital in order to determine the health status of [her] and her unborn child,'” the complaint says.
The acting director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Ken Tota, then suggested that “[if] steps can be taken to preserve the life of…her unborn child, those steps should be taken.”
The unnamed minor then had an unnecessary ultrasound, after which the Office of Refugee Resettlement considered “trying to reverse the minor’s abortion against her will by forcing her to undergo an untested regimen of progesterone,” the complaint alleges.
The minor was eventually allowed to take the second dose of medication and complete her abortion after advocates intervened, the complaint says.
The ACLU has also asked the court to consider whether forcing minors to disclose their pregnancies to family members and immigration sponsors violates their constitutional rights, and whether Scott Lloyd, the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, is unconstitutionally imposing his religious beliefs on unaccompanied minors by trying to block their access to abortion.