DC Circuit Rejects Trump Policy of Blocking Abortions for Undocumented Teens
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
WASHINGTON - The New Democrat Coalition has endorsed a proposal by Representative Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., to establish enhanced standards of care for people detained at the U.S. border by Customs and Border Patrol. Ruiz’s bill, the Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody... Read More
Henry Lozano, who spent much of his career aiding, counseling and influencing Los Angeles Latino politics and politicians, has died at his home in Whittier, Calif. Lozano, who died Monday, was 85. No cause of death was given. As a political insider, a mediator and an... Read More
WASHINGTON — For all the tumult and anger that President Donald Trump’s verbal attacks on four minority lawmakers have caused, he has been clear about his political motives: Drive a wedge through the country that forces each side to its corner. Trump is betting he can... Read More
CHICAGO — Over the Fourth of July holiday, Felix Kombwa brought the children he mentors to a festival where a law-enforcement exhibit allowed visitors to sit in a squad car, try on police gear and chat with officers. But the fireworks, the presence of the officers... Read More
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo celebrated the World Cup champion U.S. women's national soccer team Wednesday by signing legislation guaranteeing women equal pay for equal work in New York State moments before the star athletes were honored with a ticker-tape parade in New York City's Canyon... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Disputes over illegal immigration are heating up as some long-time foreign residents of the United States who ignored court deportation orders received notice they are liable for hefty fines this week. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement began issuing fines on July 2. Some of... Read More