DC Circuit Rejects Trump Policy of Blocking Abortions for Undocumented Teens

June 14, 2019 by Dan McCue
The E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C. It currently houses the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the Trump administration’s policy of blocking abortions sought by undocumented pregnant teenagers in federal custody cannot “be squared with Supreme Court precedent.”

In 2017, the Trump administration adopted a policy that required Scott Lloyd, then-director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, to sign off personally on every abortion requested by a minor in federal custody.

Lloyd, an anti-abortion crusader, rejected every one. But matters came to a head in the fall of 2017, when a 17-year-old girl identified only as Jane Doe demanded access to an abortion after being detained at the U.S. border in Texas.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union, led by Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the organization’s Reproductive Freedom Project, sued on her behalf in October 2017, asking the court to order the government to allow her to have the procedure, but the Trump administration continued to object.

During an expedited hearing, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said she was astounded by arguments made by Justice Department attorneys, who claimed Doe did not have a constitutional right to an elective abortion while in federal custody.

Chutkan promptly issued a two-page order, holding the teen would “suffer irreparable injury in the form of, at a minimum, increased risk to her health, and perhaps the permanent inability to obtain a desired abortion to which she is legally entitled.”

In doing so, she also ordered the government to transport the teen “promptly and without delay” to the closest abortion provider.

After the court ordered the government to allow Doe to proceed with her abortion, the ACLU learned of several other young women in government custody who were being prevented from accessing abortion care.

The case was then certified as a class action and Judge Chutkan ordered the policy halted in March 2018.

In the meantime, Lloyd was removed from his post at the Office of Refugee Resettlement, after internal emails and depositions made public as part of the ACLU lawsuit suggested he was devoting much of his time to micromanaging the abortion requests of teenagers in his custody.

He was transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives.

In its 2-1 decision on Friday, the D.C. District Court of Appeals held that the Trump administration should continue to be stayed while the ACLU case continues to proceed as a class action.

U.S. Circuit Judges Sri Srinivasan and Robert Wilkins, both Obama appointees, found that there is a likelihood that Jane Doe and the other young women who have joined the class action will succeed on their claim that the no-abortion policy “infringes on their protected right to choose to terminate their pregnancies.”

Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman, a Reagan appointee, filed a dissenting opinion.

The ACLU’s Amiri responded to Friday’s ruling with harsh words for the White House.

“The Trump administration’s cruel policy of blocking young immigrant women in federal custody from accessing abortion was a blatant abuse of power,” she said.

“We are relieved that today’s ruling continues to prevent the policy from taking effect while the case proceeds, and allows the case to proceed as a class action as we continue this fight,” she added.

The ruling comes amid the passage of several state abortion bans intended to push the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its decision on Roe v. Wade, the case in which the court found women had a constitutional right to make their own reproductive choices.

“With today’s ruling, we are another step closer to ending this extreme policy once and for all, and securing justice for all of these young women,” Amiri said. “We will continue fighting to make sure that the Trump administration is permanently blocked from obstructing young immigrant minors’ access to crucial health care”

In The News

Health

Voting

Civil Rights

Supreme Court Sides With Cursing Cheerleader Over Snapchat Post
Supreme Court
Supreme Court Sides With Cursing Cheerleader Over Snapchat Post
June 23, 2021
by Dan McCue

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a Pennsylvania school district violated the First Amendment by punishing a student over a vulgar social-media rant sent away from school grounds. The vote was 8 to 1, with Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting. The underlying case was filed on... Read More

Future of Remaining Confederate Symbols Topic of Roundtable
In The News
Future of Remaining Confederate Symbols Topic of Roundtable
June 16, 2021
by Brock Blasdell

The future of the nation’s remaining symbols of the Confederacy could be decided at an upcoming POV roundtable hosted by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Facebook live event, whose date marks the sixth anniversary of the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in... Read More

Department of Education Confirms Title IX Protects Gay and Transgender Students
Civil Rights
Department of Education Confirms Title IX Protects Gay and Transgender Students
June 16, 2021
by Ansley Puckett

WASHINGTON- The U.S. Department of Education confirmed Wednesday that Title IX protects students from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in any educational activity or program offered by public schools or... Read More

Biden to Honor Forgotten Victims of Tulsa Race Massacre
Civil Rights
Biden to Honor Forgotten Victims of Tulsa Race Massacre

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will take part in a remembrance of one of the nation's darkest — and largely forgotten — moments of racial violence when he helps commemorate the 100th anniversary of the destruction of a thriving Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Biden's... Read More

‘We Are Not a Monolith’: Understanding Mass Diversity Key to Winning Over APPI Voters
Political News
‘We Are Not a Monolith’: Understanding Mass Diversity Key to Winning Over APPI Voters
May 28, 2021
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month may be wrapping up, but the APPI community is pledging to come together to speak up, speak out, and be heard as perhaps never before.  There has been recognition of APPI heritage and accomplishments, including a record number... Read More

Civil Rights Advocates Ask Congress to Protect Voting Rights
Congress
Civil Rights Advocates Ask Congress to Protect Voting Rights
May 28, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- Civil rights attorneys advocated for an update to the federal Voting Rights Act Thursday as the uproar instigated by former President Donald Trump over fair elections continues to create turmoil in Congress. They blamed outdated language in the 1965 federal law for allowing states... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top