SCOTUS Rules Jane Doe Abortion Case “Moot”

Undocumented minor had procedure done in October

Hundreds of pro-choice and anti-choice activists gathered at the U.S. Supreme Court steps in 2016
Hundreds of pro-choice and anti-choice activists gathered at the U.S. Supreme Court steps in 2016 (by Mary Tuma)

In a case originating in Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled the suit over an undocumented minor seeking abortion access is "moot," as she already had the procedure last October. Referred to as "Jane Doe," the teen was blocked from clinic appointments by President Trump's ideological Office of Refugee Resettlement. The ACLU sued and a D.C. appeals court last year ruled in her favor ("Despite State's Opposition, Judge Grants Abortion to Undocumented Minor Held 'Hostage'," Oct. 20, 2017). But in an unusual move, the defeated administration asked SCOTUS to reverse the ruling and reprimand the ACLU for helping Doe access abortion. SCOTUS failed to sanction the ACLU but did toss out that D.C. ruling. Not a full victory for either side, the decision in Azar v. Garza, which didn't resolve the deeper constitutional issues at play and only focused narrowly on the Doe case, doesn't affect a broader class action suit on behalf of all minors. In other words, undocumented minors' right to abortion appears safe for now.

Shortly after the SCOTUS ruling, the D.C. Court of Appeals rejected a Trump administration request to employ its anti-abortion strategies for the minors. The policy is blocked while the case moves forward. "Yet another court has ruled against the Trump administration's 'no-abortion' policy for young immigrant women in federal custody," said Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "Every legal victory ensures that these young people are able to obtain the care they need. We will keep fighting until we secure permanent relief for all the Janes out there."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Jane Doe
Raped by the Players
Raped by the Players
The nasty hazards of life in the dot-com fast lane

Jordan Smith, Jan. 18, 2002

More by Mary Tuma
City Council Redirects APD Funds to Abortion Support Access
City Council Redirects APD Funds to Abortion Support Access
$250K to flow toward abortion support services

Aug. 14, 2020

SCOTUS Protects Abortion Rights, Upholds Texas Precedent
SCOTUS Protects Abortion Rights, Upholds Texas Precedent
Roberts concurs with majority to strike down Louisiana measure

June 29, 2020


Jane Doe, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Brigitte Amiri, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle