WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration can't prevent an undocumented teen from having an abortion.
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.
Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union, led by Brigitte Amiri, sued on her behalf Oct. 13, asking the court to order the government to allow her to have an abortion.
ACLU attorneys Meagan Burrows, Daniel Mach, Arthur Spitzer, Scott Michelman, Jennifer Chou, Mishan R. Wroe and Melissa Goodman are working with Amiri on the case.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said she was "astounded" by arguments made by Department of Justice attorneys in court Wednesday that, barring a medical emergency, the girl does not have a constitutional right to an elective abortion while in federal custody, the Washington Post reported.
Chutkan granted a temporary restraining order Wednesday afternoon, finding that the teen will be irreparably harmed.
"Plaintiff J.D. will suffer irreparable injury in the form of, at a minimum, increased risk to her health, and perhaps the permanent inability to obtain a desired abortion to which she is legally entitled," the 2-page order states.
Chutkan ordered the government to transport the teen "promptly and without delay" to the closest abortion provider.
A spokesman for the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement: “The United States District Court made a troubling ruling that exceeds the U.S. Constitution and sets a dangerous precedent by opening our borders to any illegal children seeking taxpayer-supported, elective abortions. We are disheartened the ruling rewards ideologically motivated lawsuits filed in multiple courts by the ACLU and abortion advocates. ... We will consider our next steps to ensure our country does not become an open sanctuary for taxpayer-supported abortions by minors crossing the border illegally.”
Attorney Amiri, who leads the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, expressed satisfaction with the court ruling in a statement.
“At last, our client will be able to get the care she needs without federal officials standing in the way,” Amiri said. “Her courage and perseverance are incredible, but no one should have to go to court to get a safe, legal abortion. And no one should be held hostage to the extreme anti-abortion views of a handful of government officials.”
The Department of Health and Human Services, under the directive of a Trump administration policy issued in March, barred the girl from traveling to a Texas abortion clinic even though a state judge there had ruled she could have the abortion without parental consent.
The nationwide policy, which the ACLU has asked the court to strike down, keeps shelters from facilitating access to abortion for immigrant minors without approval from the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a subdivision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Under the policy, the ACLU says the defendants in the case – Health and Human Services officials Eric Hargan, Stephen Wagner and Scott Lloyd – forced their client to visit a religious, anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center.
They also told Jane Doe’s parents about her pregnancy, against her wishes.
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