Judge rules pregnant undocumented teen in federal custody in Texas may have abortion

A judge reading a paper with rules and holding a judge hammer

Oct. 19, 2017, 10:30 a.m.: On Wednesday night, government attorneys filed an emergency appeal in a Washington, D.C. court to halt the temporary restraining order from going into effect. They are asking for a ruling by 9 p.m. Thursday night.

Brigitte Amiri, the senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, which represented the teenage girl in court said that even for the Trump administration this is “shocking.”

“We should all be horrified that the federal government is doing everything imaginable to stop a young woman from getting an abortion,” she said. Amiri added that the ACLU would continue do everything in its power to represent the girl. Mic’s original article appears below.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday ruled that the Trump administration must allow an unaccompanied, undocumented 17-year-old girl to have an abortion, after the American Civil Liberties Union had filed for a restraining order to “prevent the government from blocking the girl’s plan,” according to the Washington Post.

Federal officials had previously denied transporting the teenage girl, who is currently detained in Texas, to an abortion clinic — despite the fact she met the state’s legal requirements to undergo the procedure. The girl is currently 15 weeks pregnant, Brigitte Amiri, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in an interview with Mic.

In her ruling Wednesday, District Judge Tanya Chutkan, an Obama-era appointee, settled a contentious element of the administration’s argument for denying the girl an abortion, saying the teenager’s legal status had no bearing on her constitutional right to an abortion.

According to the Post, Chutkan said she was “astounded” the administration intended to make the girl choose between returning to her home country to have the abortion or carrying the pregnancy to term.

Without a court order preventing the state from interfering in the girl’s abortion, “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,” Chutkan wrote in her ruling.

Texas bans abortions at 20 weeks and requires minors to receive either parental permission or a judicial waiver before terminating a pregnancy.

The girl, referred to as “Jane Doe” due to privacy concerns, was able to get a judicial waiver through her lawyer, but officials at the detention facility refused to transport her to an abortion clinic.

A judge in northern California had ruled Oct. 11 that the court had no jurisdiction to issue a temporary restraining order against Texas and allow the teen to obtain the procedure.

Wednesday’s restraining order applies only to Jane Doe and no other unaccompanied minors who are currently under the Office of Refugee Resettlement custody.

“At last, our client will be able to get the care she needs without federal officials standing in the way,” Amiri said in a statement Wednesday. “And no one should be held hostage to the extreme anti-abortion views of a handful of government officials.”

The ACLU had filed for the emergency restraining order as part of a previous lawsuit, which claimed certain health care providers the ORR used were denying birth control and abortion services to the minors on religious grounds in violation of the First Amendment.

The new order maintains that officials must ensure Jane Doe obtains the abortion no later than Oct. 21.