Court Battles

Undocumented teen gets abortion that Trump administration tried to block

The undocumented teen in federal custody at the center of an abortion battle had the procedure Wednesday morning that the Trump administration had tried to block.

The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted that the 17-year-old, known only in court documents as Jane Doe, had the abortion early this morning.

“Make no mistake, the Trump administration’s efforts to interfere in women’s decisions won’t stop with Jane Doe. We will not stop fighting until every woman has access to abortion care. #JusticeforJane,” the organization said in a subsequent tweet.

The full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned a previous decision from a three-judge panel on the court that had prevented Jane Doe from getting an abortion until she is released into the custody of a sponsor. The court had given the Department of Health and Human Services until 5 p.m. on Oct. 31 to find one.


The court did not issue an opinion, but in a statement Judge Patricia Millett said the order “rights a grave constitutional wrong by the government.”

The Trump administration had argued that federal policy does not require it to help “facilitate” an abortion, but Millett noted the government was not being asked to pay for the procedure or transport her to the appointment.

“So on the record of this case, the government does not have to facilitate—make easier—J.D.’s termination of her pregnancy. It just has to not interfere or make things harder,” she wrote.

Jane Doe was about 15 weeks pregnant. Texas bans abortion after 20 weeks.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, one of three judges who dissented from Tuesday’s ruling, claimed the court had created a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. Government detention to obtain an immediate abortion on demand.

Kavanaugh said the case should never have been heard by the full court. Though difficult, he said in a footnote of his statement that it was not impossible to find a sponsor for Jane Doe by the 5 p.m. Oct. 31 deadline the court had set in its previous ruling.

“This case, as handled by the three-judge panel, therefore was on a path to a prompt resolution that would respect the interests of all parties – until the en banc Court unwisely intervened,” Kavanaugh said. “This case did not meet the standard for rehearing en banc.” 

In a statement, Kristan Hawkins, president of the anti-abortion group Students for Life of America, called Jane Doe’s abortion a tragedy.

“It’s the worst form of patriarchy to tell a young woman that without an abortion, she can’t accomplish great things, and we hope that Trump Administration will continue to fight to protect the lives of all on U.S. soil,” she said. 

“The U.S. should not become the abortion capitol [sic] of the world, and Students for Life will continue to monitor this attempt to create a Roe v. Wade 2.0 that includes all who happen to be in our country.”

In a tweet responding to the ACLU’s announcement, Pro-Life Action League said, “Whenever a fellow member of our human family is killed, it is never a cause for celebration. It is a cause for mourning.” 


The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

– This report was updated at 11:58 a.m.

Tags Abortion American Civil Liberties Union
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