WASHINGTON — A federal judge in the nation’s capital has ordered the Trump administration to allow two more illegal immigrant teenagers to obtain an abortion, but has briefly stayed her ruling to allow the government a day to appeal.
“[Defendants are] required to transport J.R. and J.P.—or allow J.R. and J.P. to be transported—promptly and without delay, on such dates, to an abortion provider, in order to obtain any pregnancy or abortion-related medical care and to obtain the abortion procedure itself, in accordance with the abortion providers’ availability and any medical requirements,” the order, written by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, reads in part.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had filed on behalf of the two 17-year-old girls, who were detained at the border and transported to shelters. They learned after their entrance into the United States that they were pregnant and decided to abort. One teen is 10 weeks pregnant and the other teen is 22 weeks pregnant.
As the policy of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) prohibiting federally-funded shelters from facilitating abortion access without approval remains in effect, the ACLU sought to force the allowance through the court system.
“Defendants maintain that J.R. and J.P. may obtain an abortion only if: (1) an individual indicates his or her willingness to serve as a sponsor for J.R. or J.P., qualifies for that position under applicable legal requirements, completes the administrative review process, and is approved by ORR; or (2) J.R. and J.P. voluntarily return to their respective home countries,” Monday’s order from Chutkan outlines.
While a family member residing in the U.S. has come forward as a “sponsor” for J.R., Chutkan notes that the completion of the process could still take some time.
In complaining that the ORR has continued to “unilaterally veto the reproductive choices of the unaccompanied minors in its custody,” and in seeking to “preserve [the teens’] constitutional right to decide whether to carry their pregnancies to term,” Chutkan ordered that the ORR either transport the teens to an abortion facility themselves or allow them to be transported. She also mandated that private, not federal, funds be used for the abortions.
According to Politico, the government has appealed regarding the teen who is 10 weeks pregnant, but has chosen not to resist the teen who is 22 weeks pregnant, citing “differing circumstances” between the two girls.
The situation arises just two months after the ACLU sued the government on behalf of another undocumented teenage girl who was in the country unaccompanied. While the government filed several appeals, the ACLU quickly acted upon receiving a green light from the appeals court and the girl obtained an abortion early the next morning.
With the support of an 11-state coalition, the Trump administration has filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to allege that the ACLU had been misleading as to when the abortion would take place, which prevented the government from filing an appeal in time.
“The ACLU misled the United States as to the timing of Jane Doe’s abortion,” U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley told the New York Times.
“After informing Justice Department attorneys that the procedure would occur on October 26th, Jane Doe’s attorneys scheduled the abortion for the early morning hours of October 25th, thereby thwarting Supreme Court review,” he explained. “In light of that, the Justice Department believes the judgment under review should be vacated, and discipline may be warranted against Jane Doe’s attorneys.”
The ACLU has denied any wrongdoing, and continues to call the ORR’s policies “cruel and dystopian.”
“We’ve already seen the courts rule in favor of Jane Doe, and today justice prevailed for two more young women like her,” Brigitte Amiri of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project said in a statement on Monday. “Unfortunately, the Trump administration has shown no indication that they’ll abandon their cruel and dystopian crusade to block abortion access for some of the most marginalized people in our country. We’re prepared to keep fighting for as long as we need to.”
Ecclesiastes 11:5 reads, “As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child, even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.”