A 17-year-old undocumented immigrant is living in custody of federal government in Texas and is being denied her abortion rights by the Trump administration.
The American Civil Liberties Union says the Central American unaccompanied minor, being referred to as Jane Doe for her privacy, is being detained in a private Brownsville shelter contracted by the Department of Health and Human Services. The ACLU has launched a suit that seeks for an emergency order from the court to block the federal government from obstructing her abortion access.
A senior attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, Brigitte Amiri, says, “The government is complete out of bounds by banning abortion for this young woman.” She also adds that it’s "blatantly unconstitutional" and "inhumane."
Texas laws state that all minors need consent from their parents or permission from a judge to get an abortion. According to legal filings, the girl has the money to pay for an abortion and permission from a judge, but is being blocked from leaving the shelter for the procedure.
Doe was obstructed from attending a pre-abortion medical appointment Susan Hays, the legal director of Jane’s Due Process, tells the Texas Tribune. Jane's Due Process is a nonprofit that seeks to provide legal representation for minors who are pregnant in Texas. Hays that she was scheduled on September 28th to get counseled on her options and a state mandated sonogram by the doctor who would also be performing the abortion. Doe was scheduled to receive the abortion the next day.
The DHHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement refused to allow Doe, who is 14 weeks pregnant, to leave the shelter even though she was to be accompanied by a guardian and attorney that were appointed by a judge to be responsible for her. Hays says that instead of the abortion clinic, Doe was forced to go to a Crisis Pregnancy Center that does not provide abortions, but instead attempts to directly influence the patient's choice to instead carry the child to term.
This case is just a scope of what exactly the Trump administration's agenda is in terms of reproductive health and just how far they are willing to go to restrict women's abortions rights. According to Politico, over the last seven months, the DHHS has intervened to block young girls from obtaining legal abortions at federally funded shelters. Even cases of rape and incest, or teens that had the ability to pay for the procedure, were denied. Instead, officials are forcing these minors to religiously affiliated groups, or, in some cases, have personally visited them to try and talk them out of abortions.
The implications of this major policy shift are huge for the hundreds of other pregnant teens in this shelters. Although the suit was originally filed against the Obama administration, the ACLU is arguing that the Trump administration is taking on a policy that would directly prevent unaccompanied teen immigrants from obtaining abortions. The administration is already under fire for another drastic change to policy after backing a 20 week abortion ban.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stated in an amicus brief earlier this week, “If Doe prevails in this case, the ruling will create a right to abortion for anyone on earth who enters the U.S. illegally. And with that right, countless others undoubtedly would follow.” He adds, "Texas must not become a sanctuary state for abortions.”
Amari, of Doe’s legal team, calls Paxton's statement “absurd and offensive." She argues that a majority of women coming over the boarder are victims of sexual assult. She doesnt know why someone "would risk their lives and that kind of assaut" just to come to the US to get an abortion.
"Since the Trump administration has taken over, we have seen a pattern of this happening to other women, and we are fearful that it will happen to other women in the future if the court does not intervene," Amiri said in a statement to NPR.
Top photo courtasy of Flicker user thecrazyfilmgirl
Bottom image via Flicker user Nancy Brigham
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Lianna Remigio is a twenty-year-old Editorial Intern at BUST and studies communications at City College in Harlem, currently living in the Bronx. You can find her on twitter @lillypads_ tweeting out dank memes and political news. In her free time, Lianna is a writer of short stories and essays as well as poems. Originally from Rockland County, her music taste can be described as a cross between a sad suburban, indie kid and a 30-year-old Bronxite. Tune in to WHCR 90.3 FM Mondays from 3 PM to 4PM to hear her talk about trending topics on "The Grey Area".