The Trump administration decided to dismiss their appeal Tuesday night to block an illegal immigrant teen, Jane Roe, from accessing an abortion. They found a birth certificate for Roe, revealing that she lied about her age and is 19, not 17. This makes her old enough to be released to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) where she could obtain an abortion with her own funds.
“The determination was made after [the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement] obtained a copy of Ms. Roe’s certificate of birth from her home country,” lawyers for the Justice Department said in a D.C. appeals court filing Tuesday. “Accordingly, ORR is currently transferring custody of Ms. Roe to the Department of Homeland Security as an adult.”
The DOJ said later that Roe was turned over to ICE and has been released on her own recognizance, leaving her free to seek an abortion. Roe reportedly continues to claim that she is 17.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for unaccompanied minors, who are placed in private, federally funded shelters.
Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director for the Center for Immigration Studies, told the Washington Times that immigrants entering the country illegally often lie about their age to enjoy the benefits of unaccompanied minors.
“They use this as a way to get into the United States and live here for years after having gamed the system this way,” she said.
The reason Roe’s age was such a crucial part of the government’s appeal is that HHS has a policy under President Trump against facilitating abortions for minors when they are not “medically necessary.”
Government lawyers had asked the Supreme Court Monday evening to block an emergency order that they facilitate Roe’s abortion after Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan decided that the government must immediately facilitate the procedure.
The American Civil Liberties Union plans to continue with its original lawsuit, which Roe and another teen had joined this past week, challenging the HHS policy.
The government did not attempt to delay the abortion of the second girl, Jane Poe, who was 22 weeks pregnant. They simply stated that due to “differing circumstances” they were not seeking a stay in her case.
"We are pleased that these two young women are able to finally get the care they need. But the government’s policy is still in place," ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri said in a statement. "These two cases show how the government continues to abuse its power by denying abortion access. The ACLU will keep fighting until this dystopian policy is struck down, and we have justice for every Jane."
The D.C. appeals court allowed Jane Doe, another unaccompanied minor, to obtain an abortion in October. The government attorneys are alleging that the ACLU misled them as to the timing of Doe’s abortion and have petitioned the Supreme Court to vacate the decision and reprimand the ACLU attorneys.