AGs File Brief Asking Court to Reconsider Delay on Abortion for Unaccompanied Minor

Posted: Oct 24, 2017 3:15 PM

Update: The D.C. appeals court has allowed the teen to obtain an abortion. 

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman led 14 state attorneys general in filing an amicus curiae brief Tuesday in support of the ACLU’s request that the D.C. Appeals Court reconsider their decision to require that a Texas unaccompanied minor, Jane Doe, find a sponsor by October 31st to facilitate her abortion since HHS objects to facilitating the procedure. 

Schneiderman repeated arguments he initially made in a letter to the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) E. Scott Lloyd last week that denying access to abortions for unaccompanied minors is “unconstitutional, it is inhumane, and it is abhorrent.”

“Every woman has a constitutional right to an abortion – including unaccompanied minor immigrants,” Schneiderman commented on the brief. “Forcing this young woman to remain pregnant against her will is not only cruel and inhumane – it’s illegal. We can’t allow President Trump’s radical agenda against women to gain traction anywhere in our country — and we’ll continue to fight to ensure Jane and all women get the justice they deserve.”

The brief argues that “the government’s policy of withholding its consent to all requests for abortions, except in instances of sexual abuse and medical necessity, constitutes an undue burden on the constitutional rights of unaccompanied immigrant minors, including the movant.”

The brief was filed by attorneys general from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. Tuesday, eight additional attorneys general joined the brief, from California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Vermont, and Washington.

The initial appeals court panel ruling Friday, which directed the teen to find a sponsor by October 31st to facilitate the abortion, left both sides of the debate unhappy.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU argued that requiring the teen to find a sponsor will take too much time given the level of approval required. They point out that during November the teen, now 15 weeks pregnant, will hit the point at which abortion is no longer allowed under Texas law.

Pro-life groups and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argue that allowing the girl to find a sponsor to facilitate the abortion still creates abortion access for unaccompanied minors who come to the country illegally. They believe this sets a dangerous precedent of a right to elective abortions in the U.S. for non-citizens.

Eight attorneys general led by Paxton filed an amicus curiae brief on the side of the government in the case prior to the appeals court ruling.

“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.”

Catherine Glenn Foster, President of Americans United for Life, commented on Friday’s ruling that her group is “thankful” that the federal appeals court “avoided a sweeping constitutional ruling” that would have mandated the government to facilitate elective abortion.

She added “we are deeply saddened and troubled that the court has nonetheless ordered the government to facilitate and be complicit in a young girl's abortion by locating an abortion-friendly sponsor for the teen, and has favored access to elective abortion over U.S. law and policy and the life of an unborn child. The court has turned a blind eye to the true injustice of abortion, set a deadline for the death of a child, and risked turning the U.S. - one of the few countries in the world to allow late-term abortions - into a destination for abortion-seekers."

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