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An Appeals Court Has Blocked a Teenage Undocumented Immigrant from Having an Abortion

A D.C. appeals court has blocked a 17-year-old pregnant undocumented immigrant from receiving an abortion in a 2-1 decision, maintaining a Trump administration policy of not facilitating abortions for undocumented minors in government custody, The Washington Post reports.

Long story short, the teenager, who is identified in court papers as “Jane Doe,” is 15 weeks pregnant and has been in government custody since September, after she was caught attempting to cross the border into the United States. She is currently being held at a shelter in Texas for undocumented minors caught entering the country illegally. According to BuzzFeed News, while the shelter itself has said it has no problem releasing her for the procedure, the Trump administration has refused to give it the necessary permissions to allow Doe to leave.

While a Texas state judge ruled earlier that the teenager could get an abortion without parental permission required by Texas law, the D.C. appeals court has reversed the decision, and instead has given the Department of Health and Human Services until October 31 to find a sponsor, who would be able to make medical decisions for Doe, to take custody of her.

Because Doe is 15 weeks pregnant and Texas bans abortion after 20 weeks, she is already running out of time to have the procedure altogether. As her lawyers have already pointed out, finding a sponsor, which includes running extensive background checks, can take weeks — much more time than Doe has to spare.

“She’s already suffered weeks of delays, which the government has no business doing,” Jennifer Dalven, a lawyer with the ACLU, told The Washington Post.

Doe’s lawyers have said that they are not asking the government to pay for the procedure or transportation to the clinic.

“There are no winners in cases like these. But there sure are losers,” Judge Patricia A. Millett, who wrote the case’s dissenting opinion, said. “Forcing her to continue an unwanted pregnancy just in the hopes of finding a sponsor that has not been found in the past six weeks sacrifices J.D.’s constitutional liberty, autonomy, and personal dignity for no justifiable governmental reason.”

If a sponsor is not found for Doe by the deadline of October 31, the case would revert to the state court’s decision and the government would be required to facilitate an abortion for the 17-year-old, “without delay.”

Caroline is the Evening/Weekend Editor and Style Editor at Her Campus, a senior public relations major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a leather jacket enthusiast.  You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @c_pirozzolo. 
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