Court Rules Undocumented Minor Held “Hostage” by Trump Administration Can Access Abortion

Decision "rights a grave constitutional wrong," says judge

Court Rules Undocumented Minor Held “Hostage” by Trump Administration Can Access Abortion

In a whirlwind of court rulings, Jane Doe – an undocumented minor in Texas held “hostage” by Trump administration officials – will now be able to access her constitutional right to abortion after being denied that right for one month.

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, in a 6-3 decision, the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a recent ruling by a three-judge panel on the same court that would have forced Doe to prolong her wait time by finding a “sponsor” by Oct. 31 to take her to the abortion facility, pushing her dangerously further into pregnancy. (Doe was forced to cancel her Friday abortion appointment due to the ruling.) The D.C. Court will honor a judge’s ruling on Oct. 18 that had (briefly) allowed the 17-year-old to obtain the procedure after the girl’s attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union requested a full review by the court.

"Fortunately, today’s decision rights a grave constitutional wrong by the government. Remember, we are talking about a child here,” Judge Patricia Millett wrote in a strongly worded concurring opinion. “The court today correctly recognizes that J.D.’s unchallenged right under the Due Process Clause affords [her] a modicum of the dignity, sense of self-worth, and control over her own destiny that life seems to have so far denied her.”

In the hands of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Doe was blocked from attending her abortion clinic appointments and was sent to an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center by shelter staff, overseen by anti-choice activist leader and Trump appointee, Director Scott Lloyd. Austin-based Jane’s Due Process aided Doe in her judicial process to obtain abortion without parental consent and have advocated on her behalf, stressing that time is an important factor: Doe is already 15 weeks pregnant and Texas bans abortion after 20 weeks.

The decision reaffirms the right of undocumented migrants to access abortion care and should come as a blow to anti-choice Attorney General Ken Paxton who offered three legal briefs in support of the Trump administration’s move to impede Doe’s medical care.

For more, check out our War on Women's Health page.

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