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ACLU Wants Illegal Immigrant's (Unborn) Child Terminated

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The American Civil Liberties Union wants to see the unborn child of a young woman who is illegally in the United States terminated -- through what it insists is her "right" to abort that child.

Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia best summarized the key facts in the case of Garza v. Hargan.

"In or about early July 2017, 17-year-old Jane Doe (J.D.) became pregnant," Henderson wrote in dissenting from her court's ruling in this case. "On or about September 7, 2017, she attempted to enter the United States illegally and unaccompanied. By J.D.'s own admission, authorities detained her 'upon arrival.'"

"Notably," the judge said, "elective abortion is illegal in J.D.'s home country."

The questions: As an illegal immigrant in the legal custody of the federal government, does J.D. have a "right" to abort her child here? Can the federal government be forced to facilitate such an abortion?

The Trump administration declined to argue the question of whether this 17-year-old illegal immigrant has a "right" to an abortion here. Instead, it argued that the federal government cannot be forced to facilitate that abortion.

For starters, the Department of Justice argued in a court filing, this illegal immigrant could simply agree to leave the country she had illegally entered and get her abortion elsewhere.

"Ms. Doe may choose to terminate her federal custody (either by voluntarily departing the United States or by finding an appropriate sponsor), which would eliminate any alleged need for the government to facilitate her elective abortion," said the Justice Department lawyers.

"Ms. Doe," they said, "would then be in the same situation as if she had not entered the United States illegally and in which it would be abundantly clear that the federal government would have no obligation to facilitate her abortion."

In her dissent from the contrary ruling in her court this week, Judge Henderson argued that foreign nationals apprehended illegally entering the United States do not have a right to an abortion here.

The ACLU lawyers, by contrast, argued on J.D.'s behalf that an illegal immigrant minor in federal custody does have such a right.

But in an Oct. 12 filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the ACLU failed to describe in plain language exactly what an abortion does.

This failure came as the ACLU lawyers described how the administration had dealt with another pregnant unaccompanied minor who sought an abortion.

"After obtaining a judicial bypass and receiving the state-mandated counseling, she decided to have a medication abortion," the ACLU filing said. "This regimen begins with a dose of mifepristone, which stops the pregnancy from growing, followed by a dose of misoprostol, which expels the pregnancy within 48 hours later."

But it is not a "pregnancy" that stops "growing" and is "expelled" from the mother's womb by these drugs. It is a human being.

Tellingly, the very next sentences of the ACLU's filing quote an official from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (the federal agency that oversees the care of unaccompanied minors who come here illegally) who did use plain English.

"After the minor took the mifepristone," the ACLU lawyers wrote (in apparent horror,) "ORR intervened, and forced her to go to an 'emergency room of a local hospital in order to determine the health status of (her) and her unborn child.'

"The then-Acting Director of ORR, Ken Tota," the lawyers said, "directed ORR as follows: '(i)f steps can be taken to preserve the life of ... her unborn child, those steps should be taken.'"

Judge Henderson in her dissent from the appeals court's decision to expedite J.D.'s case unapologetically concluded that people who are not legally in the United States cannot claim a right to an abortion here -- anymore than they can claim a Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

"Despite her physical presence in the United States, J.D. has never entered the United States as a matter of law and cannot avail herself of the constitutional rights afforded those legally within our borders," wrote Henderson.

"If the Due Process Clause applies to J.D. with full force," said Henderson, "there will be no reason she cannot donate to political campaigns, despite 52 U.S.C. 30121's prohibition on contributions by nonresident foreign nationals inasmuch as freedom of political expression is plainly fundamental to our system of liberty."

"I see no reason," the judge added, "that she may not possess a firearm notwithstanding 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)'s prohibition on doing so while 'illegally or unlawfully in the United States.'"

The ACLU posted a statement online praising the ruling Henderson dissented from and embracing its consequence: terminating the life of the would-be U.S. citizen in an illegal immigrant's womb.

"The U.S. appeals court has ruled that the government must allow Jane to get an abortion," said the ACLU. "Now it's time for Trump administration officials to stop forcing this young woman -- and others like her -- to stay pregnant when they don't want to be."

The truth, of course, is the real civil liberty violated here is the right to life of the child.

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of To find out more about him, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at


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