An appeals court has temporarily halted a federal judge's order to allow an undocumented 17-year-old girl in the government's custody to have an abortion.
Susan Hays, legal director of Jane's Due Process, said there's no guarantee that getting Doe a sponsor will allow her to get an abortion; she will be almost 17 weeks pregnant at that time.
Federal judges weighing the case of a Central American teenager seeking to end her pregnancy seemed inclined on Friday to resolve the issue without wading into the explosive mix of immigration and abortion law - but at the same time acknowledged that such action may be impossible.
One of HHS's arguments against the teen being granted an abortion was that she could seek a sponsor - someone to host her as she goes through immigration proceedings, releasing her from the custody of the detention center and thus absolving the government of "facilitating" her abortion.
Doe's lawyer, Brigitte Amiri of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the court that the doctor who gave the consultation is only available until Saturday, and that the doctor who will replace him would require yet another 24 hour waiting period and only performs abortions up until 15.6 weeks. "That is not a best interest decision".
"What they are actually doing is supplanting their decision about what J.D. should do with her pregnancy", Amiri said, abbreviating Jane Doe. The government has said it does not want to facilitate the procedure. "Shame on this judge for overruling compassionate care and instead mandating that the USA government help facilitate an abortion for a teenage girl", she added. But the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked part of the order after the Trump administration appealed.
U.S. Magistrate Judge, Laurel Beeler rejected that maneuver on October 11, finding that Doe lacked legal standing to join the case because she is in Texas. Millett would have allowed the girl to obtain an abortion as the court ruled earlier this week. If that happens, she could obtain an abortion if she chooses.
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She claims that she was denied access to abortion, but lawyers for Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued that the teenager did not have a constitutional right to an elective abortion in federal custody unless it was a medical emergency. He also questioned whether the time it would take to find a sponsor is "analytically akin" to the time it might take to get parental consent.
The federal government followed by appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals in a motion that argued "the district court abused its discretion in granting such so-called temporary relief". Lloyd reportedly said after taking over that he would release undocumented minors from shelters only for "pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling".
"We're at a point where days matter", weighed in Judge Patricia Millett. Dorsey tried to avoid acknowledging that the undocumented minor was a "person" protected under the U.S. Constitution, but finally conceded that she did have constitutional rights. Attorneys for both sides also noted that the approval process for a sponsor can take weeks or months-an amount of time that Doe does not have.
"Here, what we're talking about is them standing in the way", Amiri said, adding that every day that Jane Doe remains pregnant takes a toll on her emotional and physical health. "Texas must not become a sanctuary state for abortions". After the hearing, a three-judge panel will decide on Friday afternoon if she can have an abortion.
After Doe won a temporary restraining order from Judge Chutkan on Wednesday, a representative for the Administration for Children and Families said the agency was troubled that the court would set "a risky precedent by opening our borders to any illegal children seeking taxpayer-supported, elective abortions". In Texas, where the girl is being detained, abortions are allowed only up to 20 weeks. "Even more troubling, it appears you have gone so far as to intervene personally in these children's health care decisions, contacting them directly in an effort to intimidate them into unwillingly carrying their pregnancies to term".
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Amiri called the government's position "blatantly unconstitutional".