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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Feds Quietly Drop Opposition to Immigrant Teen’s Abortion

The government dropped its appeal late Tuesday to keep abortion access off-limits to a 17-year-old pregnant immigrant.

WASHINGTON (CN) – The government dropped its appeal late Tuesday to keep abortion access off-limits to a 17-year-old pregnant immigrant.

Jane Roe, as the teen is known, was apprehended earlier this month at the U.S.-Mexico border, which she crossed without adult supervision.

Barring their voluntary departure from the country, unaccompanied minors like Roe are kept in federal custody until they secure a suitable sponsor or lawful status.

Roe is living at a shelter run by one of the government's private contractors, but it was the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services here that stood in the way of Roe terminating her pregnancy, which is about 10 weeks along.

When the American Civil Liberties Union learned about Roe's predicament, it filed suit in Washington for a restraining order. The ACLU brought the underlying case both for Roe and Jane Poe, an unrelated teen who is already 22 weeks along, nearing the legal cutoff to terminate her pregnancy.

The challenge erupted two months after the ACLU succeeded on behalf of another pregnant young immigrant, but the government denied that this Jane Doe case created precedent it had to follow.

Such arguments fell flat Monday, however, with U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan.

On the same afternoon that Chutkan issued temporary restraining orders for the government to step aside, the government brought an appeal with attorneys at the the firm Consovoy McCarthy Park.

Since the government challenged Roe’s abortion access only, the ACLU says Poe has already ended her 22-week pregnancy.

The government moved late Tuesday to voluntary dismiss the Roe appeal, offering no insight as to the decision in the 4-page filing.

A representative for the Administration for Children and Families at Health and Human Services declined to comment.

ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri celebrated the dismissal of the appeal, but noted that it will press on with its challenge to a Health and Human Services policy that prohibits the facilitation of abortions for unaccompanied minors.

“We are pleased that these two young women are able to finally get the care they need. But the government’s policy is still in place,” she said. “These two cases show how the government continues to abuse its power by denying abortion access. The ACLU will keep fighting until this dystopian policy is struck down, and we have justice for every Jane.”

While unaccompanied minors sometimes face difficulty obtaining abortions when they are living in religiously-affiliated shelters, Amiri emphasized that it was the government here that tried to frustrate these women's health care rights.

“Neither of the shelters have an objection to provide access to abortion," Amiri said.

Categories / Civil Rights, Government, Health

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