Undocumented immigrant teen has abortion ending weeks-long court battle

WASHINGTON — An undocumented teen in federal custody ended her pregnancy Wednesday morning less than 24 hours after a judge’s order forced the government to allow the 17-year-old to be promptly transferred to an abortion facility.

The announcement from the teenager’s attorneys put an end to a case that raised difficult political questions and highlighted the Trump administration’s new policy of refusing to ‘‘facilitate’’ abortions for unaccompanied minors.

The teenager, identified only as Jane Doe in court papers, is being held in Texas for illegally entering the country and was nearly 16 weeks pregnant. Texas law bans most abortions after 20 weeks.


‘‘Justice prevailed today for Jane Doe. But make no mistake about it, the administration’s efforts to interfere in women’s decisions won’t stop with Jane,’’ said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, who represented the teen.

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The teenager’s procedure came after a weeks-long legal battle that moved swiftly through the courts, with judges issuing contradictory rulings.

On Tuesday, the full US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit took the unusual step of reversing a three-judge panel of the same court without first holding oral argument. The panel decision would have postponed the abortion.

Instead, the D.C. Circuit’s 6-3 ruling sent the case back to a judge, who hours later ordered the government to ‘‘promptly and without delay’’ transport the teen to a Texas abortion provider.

In a statement provided Wednesday by the ACLU, the teenager said she knew immediately after learning of her pregnancy after her border crossing that she was ‘‘not ready to be a parent.’’


The government-funded shelter, her statement said, would not allow her to get an abortion.

‘‘Instead, they made me see a doctor that tried to convince me not to abort and to look at sonograms. People I don’t even know are trying to make me change my mind. I made my decision and that is between me and God. Through all of this, I have never changed my mind.’’

It was not immediately clear where the abortion was performed, but her attorneys said last week that she had already received the counseling Texas law requires at least 24 hours in advance.

washington post