DOJ drops appeal to prevent immigrant teen's abortion

DOJ drops appeal to prevent immigrant teen's abortion
© Getty Images

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dropped its appeal of a district court order that stopped it from blocking two young, unaccompanied immigrant women in federal custody from obtaining an abortion.

DOJ was appealing the court order for only one of the two women, known as Jane Roe, but asked the court to dismiss the case late Tuesday after it was discovered that Roe was 19 years old, not 17 years old, as previously believed. 

The department said Roe was transferred from the Office of Refugee Resettlement to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and released on her own recognizance. 

An ICE spokesperson confirmed for The Hill that, under the national detention standards, a woman in custody can obtain an abortion. The woman must bear the cost of the procedure unless her life is endangered by carrying the baby to term, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

DOJ did not appeal the court order that allowed the other woman, known as Jane Poe, to obtain the procedure. The agency cited “differing circumstances surrounding Ms. Poe’s case.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which brought the suit on behalf of the women, said it's pleased Roe and Poe will finally be able to get the care they need, but the fight isn’t over. The group said it’s still fighting the government’s policy of blocking unaccompanied children from obtaining an abortion. 

“These two cases show how the government continues to abuse its power by denying abortion access,”  Brigitte Amiri, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement.

“The ACLU will keep fighting until this dystopian policy is struck down, and we have justice for every Jane."

ACLU has filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to proceed as a class action on behalf of all pregnant unaccompanied immigrant minors in federal custody and enjoin the policy as soon as possible.

District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who issued the temporary restraining order Monday to stop the government from blocking Roe and Poe’s abortion, has not yet ruled on that motion.