ACLU criticises government over abortion access for minors in federal care

By agency reporter
October 11, 2017

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will be in court today (11  October 2017) for an emergency hearing on behalf of a young woman in Texas who is currently being prevented from accessing abortion care because the Trump administration has adopted a new policy that directly prevents unaccompanied immigrant minors from obtaining abortions.

The ACLU is going to court to ensure that Jane Doe and other young women like her can obtain the abortion care they are seeking.

The federal lawsuit was originally filed in June 2016, and last Thursday Jane Doe was added to the case to seek emergency action to stop the federal government from blocking her from seeing an abortion provider. Jane Doe is an unaccompanied immigrant minor who is currently residing in a government-funded shelter in Texas. Unaccompanied immigrant minors leave their home countries, often fleeing abuse, torture, and violence, and come to the United States without their parents. Once in custody, the federal government provides day-to-day care for these young people until they are reunified with family in the US, seek asylum, or are deported. The government – and government-funded shelters – are required by law to provide minors with access to the full range of medical care.

Because Texas law requires parental consent or a judicial waiver before a minor may obtain an abortion, the plaintiff went to court with the assistance of an attorney and an appointed guardian and obtained the necessary judicial waiver. While the young woman has legal authority to obtain an abortion, the federal government has stepped in to block her from being transported to a clinic. They instead required her to visit a religiously affiliated 'Crisis Pregnancy Center' to undergo counselling to continue the pregnancy and she was required to have a sonogram conducted by non-medical personnel against her will.

“The Trump administration’s action is shocking – a young woman is essentially being held hostage and forced by federal officials to continue a pregnancy against her will,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “And this case isn’t the only one – nationally, the federal government is obstructing young immigrant women’s access to abortion. It’s blatantly unconstitutional, not to mention unconscionable.”

The Jane Doe in this case is not the only unaccompanied minor who has recently experienced obstruction to abortion access at the hands of federal officials. In one case, a young woman was forcibly sent to an emergency room after she had taken the abortion pill, to try to prevent her from completing the abortion. In another case, Office of Refugee Resettlement Director Scott Lloyd personally visited a young woman who was seeking abortion to attempt to dissuade her from her decision.

“In a story straight from dystopian fiction, a young woman is being held against her will, intimidated and shamed for her decisions, forced to undergo coercive counselling and medical procedures, and physically barred from ending an unwanted pregnancy”, said Susan Hays, legal director of Jane’s Due Process, an organisation that helps secure legal representation for pregnant minors in Texas.

* American Civil Liberties Union https://www.aclu.org/

[Ekk/4]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.