New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) E. Scott Lloyd Friday claiming that denying access to abortions for unaccompanied minors is “unconstitutional, it is inhumane, and it is abhorrent.” The D.C. appeals court is weighing the question Friday of whether Jane Doe, an unaccompanied minor who came to the country illegally, has the right to access an abortion.
“Just this morning, at oral argument in the D.C. Circuit, the federal government continued to refuse to permit this teen to exercise her fundamental constitutional rights, highlighting the absurdity of this horrifying and inhumane policy,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “I want to be clear: all women, including unaccompanied minors, have constitutionally-guaranteed reproductive rights, and I will use the full force of my office to ensure they’re protected in New York.”
“Unaccompanied minors who arrive in the United States often are fleeing threats to their life and safety in their countries of origin,” Schneiderman wrote to Lloyd. “Some of them may be victims of sexual assault or abuse, or have significant medical issues. They are legally entitled to access to adequate medical care, including abortion services, while in U.S. custody.”
“This conduct is unconstitutional, it is inhumane, and it is abhorrent,” Schneiderman continued. “Please be advised that my office will not hesitate to use all of its powers to protect the constitutional rights of unaccompanied minors in New York, and to ensure that ORR ceases executing this radical and unlawful policy.”
Schneiderman cites the Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt to back up his claim that denying abortion access to illegal immigrant minors is unconstitutional.
That case did not establish rights of illegal immigrants to abortion access but simply found that two provisions of a Texas law, the requirement that an abortion doctor have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital and that abortion clinics meet the standards of an ambulatory surgical center, were an undue burden on a woman’s right to abortion access.
Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled Wednesday that Jane Doe must be allowed to access an abortion and 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.”
Eight attorneys general led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an amicus curiae brief on the side of the government in the case.
“No federal court has ever declared that unlawfully-present aliens with no ties to this country have a constitutional right to abortion on demand, they write. “The Court should decline to break that new ground.”
“The Constitution does not confer on Jane Doe the right to an abortion,” they add.
They argue that granting Doe access to an abortion would “create a right to abortion for anyone on Earth who entered the United States illegally, no matter how briefly.”
Pro-life groups, including the Susan B. Anthony List, are also warning that allowing the abortion would set a dangerous precedent.
SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser called it “a case which would incentivize an abortion-import business for illegal immigrant minor girls in defiance of state laws.”
“And who is being asked to run the business,” she asked on a call with reporters, “Taxpayers and the government Office of Refugee Resettlement.”
“This is not their job,” she emphasized. “Instead, it is our government’s job to provide compassionate and protective care. That’s exactly what the ORR is doing. They seek to safeguard the health of a foreign, pregnant girl in their care – as well as the health of her child. On the other hand, the ACLU is feeding off her human misery in pursuit of a constitutional right that does not exist. It certainly doesn’t exist for illegal immigrants.”