Feds Appeal Abortion Ruling in Favor of Immigrant Teens

WASHINGTON (CN) – The federal government filed an appeal Monday of an injunction that prevents the Trump administration from blocking unaccompanied immigrant minors from getting abortions.

The notice of appeal to the D.C. Circuit comes more than a week after U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan granted class certification to all pregnant unaccompanied minor immigrants who are or will be in the federal government’s legal custody.

The class certification came as part of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation against Health and Human Services officials, including Secretary Eric Hargan, Stephen Wagner with the Administration for Children and Families, and Scott Lloyd, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The ACLU Foundation filed the lawsuit last October after it first became aware of an unaccompanied teen being prevented from getting an abortion.

Through its lawsuit, the ACLU Foundation secured abortion access for several pregnant teens, but had also sought to challenge the larger Office of Refugee Resettlement policy, which prevents Health and Human Services officials from facilitating abortions for pregnant teens.

Finding that its policies “likely constitute an undue burden” on the reproductive rights of unaccompanied minors in federal custody, Judge Chutkan also granted a preliminary injunction on March 30 preventing the Office of Refugee Resettlement, or ORR, from implementing policies that strip these rights from the teens.

“ORR’s absolute veto nullifies a UC’s right to make her own reproductive choices, including the decision of whether to continue or terminate her pregnancy,” last month’s ruling states, abbreviating unaccompanied children. “Accordingly, the court concludes that ORR’s policies and practices infringe on female UC’s constitutional rights by effectively prohibiting them from ‘making the ultimate decision’ on whether or not to continue their pregnancy prior to viability—a quintessential undue burden.”

Attorney Brigitte Amiri with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project said the organization won’t back down in light of the government’s appeal.

“Yet again, the Trump administration has doubled down on their extreme anti-abortion and anti-immigrant agenda,” Amiri said in a statement. “We have no intention of backing down until we put an end to ORR’s coercive and unconstitutional ‘no-abortion’ policy.”

A spokesperson for the Administration for Children and Families did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment on the appeal.

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