DC Circuit Temporarily Halts Order Allowing Abortion for Detained Teen

WASHINGTON (CN) – The D.C. Circuit on Thursday temporarily blocked a judge’s order requiring the federal government to allow an undocumented teen in Texas to get an abortion.

The per curium order from the three-judge, D.C. Circuit panel set oral arguments on the government’s emergency motion in the case for 10 a.m. Friday morning.  It also stayed part of a lower court judge’s order that directed officials to make arrangements for the teen to receive an abortion on either Friday or Saturday.

“The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion for stay and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion,” the order states.

The 17-year-old girl, identified as Jane Doe, has been fighting for access to the procedure since she was detained at the U.S. border in Texas on Sept. 11.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued a temporary restraining order after the American Civil Liberties Union, led by senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri, sued on her behalf.

The Department of Health and Human Services, under the directive of a Trump administration policy issued in March, had barred the teen from traveling to a Texas abortion clinic for the procedure, even though a state judge there had ruled she could have the abortion without parental consent.

Justice Department attorneys Scott Stewart, Alexander Kenneth Haas and Sarah Fabian filed an emergency appeal on behalf of the government on Wednesday night setting the stage for Thursday’s decision in the fact-moving case.

Under Texas law, Ms. Doe will need to get mandatory pre-abortion counseling. The per curiam order does not block that part of Chutkan’s temporary restraining order, but does block the part that would allow her to have the actual procedure.

Amiri, who leads the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement: “This administration has no shame and no regard for a woman’s health or decisions. Weeks ago, our client decided to end her pregnancy. Her decision has been disregarded and she’s now been dragged into a protracted legal battle over her ability to get the care she needs. The abuse of power is appalling.”

A spokesperson for the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged the D.C. Circuit order in an email but did not respond a request for comment on it.


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