It’s a safe bet that wherever President Trump was on Tuesday, he was probably fuming. That’s because the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 6-3 that an undocumented teen living in a detention center in Texas has the legal right to an abortion as early as next week.
The upturn follows a ruling by a three-judge panel of the same court that the 17-year old would need an official U.S. sponsor, to be found by the U.S. Department of Health, to grant consent before being allowed the medical procedure. That could cause potentially dire delays (in Texas, abortions are illegal at 20 weeks).
Now the young girl is being allowed to leave the center “promptly and without delay” to visit a provider of her choice.
The unnamed girl arrived in the U.S. in September—her home country has not been released—and was immediately placed in a shelter for unaccompanied immigrant minors run by the Health and Human Services Office. It was there that she discovered she was pregnant.
Today, she’s nearly 16 weeks along. She had previously received judicial authority to leave the center to have an abortion but then the federal government stepped in and refused to transport her. That’s when the ACLU got involved to represent her.
"This administration has no shame and no regard for a woman's health or decisions," said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
"Weeks ago, our client decided to end her pregnancy. Her decision has been disregarded and she's now been dragged into a protracted legal battle over her ability to get the care she needs."
Of the ruling, Judge Patricia Millett, a Democrat, wrote: "Surely the mere act of entry into the United States without documentation does not mean that an immigrant's body is no longer her or his own.”
On the other side of the aisle, and vote, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a Republican, said that the court had embraced "a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand."
The ruling lies in sharp contrast to the President’s anti-immigrant, pro-life agenda. And the girl isn’t in the clear just yet: The case could go before the Supreme Court. The basic question here is will undocumented immigrants be given the same rights as U.S. citizens? We’ll have to wait and see.
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