D.C. Appeals Court Temporarily Halts Ruling that HHS Must Let Illegal Immigrant Teen Access Abortion

Posted: Oct 19, 2017 12:50 PM

An appeals court is set to review Wednesday’s decision by Judge Tanya Chutkan that an unaccompanied minor, Jane Doe, who came to the country illegally must be allowed to access an abortion. Chutkan wrote that the 17-year-old must be transported to an abortion clinic near her shelter in Texas "promptly and without delay." She said federal officials are "restrained from interfering with or obstructing [the teen's] access to abortion counseling or an abortion."

The Department of Justice appealed the decision saying it “sets a dangerous precedent by opening our borders to any illegal children seeking taxpayer-supported, elective abortions.”

They add that the judge’s order “overrides the policies and procedures” of the department and that the administration “will continue to provide [children in their care] with excellent health care and protect their well-being in all our facilities.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a short ruling Thursday letting the girl go to a counseling meeting with the doctor who was scheduled to perform the abortion but halting Chutkan’s order allowing the girl to get the procedure.

The appeals court said the ruling “should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits” of the case.

“The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion for stay,” according to the ruling.

If the court lifts the stay Friday morning, Jane Doe might still get the abortion Friday or Saturday.

Judge Chutkan's order was limited to Jane Doe's case and would've expired after 14 days although the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been advocating for abortion access for all illegal immigrants in similar situations.

The ACLU and some abortion advocacy groups argue that despite being an unaccompanied minor in the government’s custody, Jane Doe has a “constitutional right” to an abortion in the US.

Pro-life groups and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argue that there is no such right and creating one would be a dangerous precedent.

“An unlawfully-present alien with no substantial ties to this country has no constitutional right to abortion on demand,” Paxton said in a statement Wednesday. “Texas has a legitimate and substantial intereset in preserving and promoting fetal life. Texas must not become a sanctuary state for abortions.”