US Court Rules Against Trump Administration in Immigrant Teen Abortion Case

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

A U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday that the U.S. government cannot deny access to abortions for unaccompanied immigrant minors in federal custody, delivering a blow to a Trump administration policy.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower court decision that found the government cannot unduly burden the ability of a woman to obtain an abortion under established Supreme Court precedent.

The case involves the intersection of two divisive social issues on which Republican President Donald Trump has taken a hard line: abortion and immigration.

It began with a 17-year-old girl, whose name and nationality were not disclosed and was called “Jane Doe” in legal papers. She came to the United States alone in 2017 and was placed in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which falls under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and houses immigrant children.

The girl, who was in the United States illegally, obtained an abortion after suing the administration in federal court. But the Supreme Court last year allowed the litigation to continue in lower courts to determine the fate of other detained immigrants in similar situations.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement in March 2017 announced that shelters were “prohibited from taking any action that facilitates an abortion without direction and approval from the Director.” Scott Lloyd, who had become the agency’s director that month, then denied every abortion request presented to him during his tenure even when the pregnancy resulted from rape, according to the appeals court ruling. Lloyd left his post at the end of 2018.

“The policy functions as an across-the-board ban on access to abortion,” the appeals court ruling said.

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment.

In the 2018 fiscal year, there were almost 50,000 unaccompanied minors referred to the refugee office’s network of some 100 shelters around the United States.

Minors from countries other than Mexico or Canada who cross the border alone stay in federal care until they can be released to sponsors in the United States or until they turn 18 and are transferred to immigration detention. In fiscal year 2017, the only year for which data is available, 18 pregnant unaccompanied minors in the refugee office’s custody requested abortions, according to the court ruling.

The Trump administration could appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court but Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative Trump appointee who participated in the case when he served on the D.C. Circuit, would likely be recused. That would leave the court split 4-4 along ideological grounds.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Elizabeth
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Elizabeth

Looks like there’s a lot more work to be done in cleaning up our courts.

Screwtape
Member

…and laws.

Dave Hardesty
Member

Nope, no abortion. Even though she’s illegal the baby is innocent. Let her give birth, let the child be adopted and then deport her. She doesn’t want the baby anyway and she is here illegally. We don’t want here but will take the child and raise it as an American citizen.

Linda Laramie
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Linda Laramie

Illegal immigrants should not have the right to access the court or judges.They go after us to house, feed , get medical care/abortions,, tax credits, jobs and mega freebies. Let Mexico or other countries next to their country give them asylum. They can always apply for a green card or citizenship here, but be firm about doing it the right way! There are too many veterans and homeless we need to take care of first.

Screwtape
Member

More importantly it eliminates another “anchor baby”, who’s birthright citizenship (an idiot’s concept when applied to criminal invaders) opens the door on all sorts of heinous fuc*ery most foul by illegals, their relatives, neighbors, and pet goats. (with thanks to Christopher Moore)

Beverly
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Beverly

Oh never fear, the anchor babies are here…another federal court just ruled that a SINGLE MOM WITH CHILD can get asylum if she claims that she has been threatened in her own country, by gang members…because she is single and has no husband to “protect her” (and unless he would be a gang member…could a husband protect her anyway?). So any estimates how many SINGLE MOMS are south of the border who can claim to have been THREATENED BY GANG MEMBERS? Next we will see the caravans of single moms threatened south of the border! Whee…all due to current “asylum”… Read more »

Screwtape
Member

“Asylum” laws are as insane and idiotic as the “immigration lottery”. “Birthright citizenship” should be revised to ONLY cover those here legally.

Screwtape
Member

What’s missing here is: under what circumstances was she impregnated? There’s much talk about rape and sexual abuse of criminal invaders while they sneak up to and into El Norte.

From a practical standpoint this would make the “rape” excuse so often used to justify abortion.

Screwtape
Member

Good. No anchor baby. This a free, “gimme” medical service that should be offered even if it attracts all kinds of undesirables. (as if they didn’t already have enough incentives)

Otis
Member

Frankly I am surprised that any illegal ould want an abortion, as your point Screwtape. The baby would’ve an ‘anchor.’

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