Lawyers for immigrant teen take her fight for an abortion to full appeals court in Washington, D.C.

Campaign Action

On Friday, Oct. 20, an appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the Trump administration cannot block a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant woman in a detention facility from getting an abortion. In case you are keeping count, that’s now two individual judges (one at the state level, one at the federal level) and an appeals court panel of three judges that have all come to the same conclusion: this young woman has the right to have an abortion if she wants one. Yet the administration is still persisting in its attempt to force this woman into motherhood. 

Despite three court rulings that have been on her side, it is still a real possibility that Jane Doe, as the teen is known, will not get the abortion that she seeks. In Friday’s ruling, while the court said the administration couldn’t block her from an abortion, they also gave immigration authorities

Oct. 31 to find her a sponsor so that she can legally remain in the country. This has caused Doe to seek another legal alternative and, as of Sunday night, her lawyers have filed her case with the full appeals court in Washington. 

Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union moved Sunday night to escalate the legal fight to the full D.C. Circuit after a three-judge panel issued a 2-1 decision Friday trying to forestall a definitive ruling in the case. That panel gave authorities until the end of the month to try to find the teen an adult sponsor, who could then help her get an abortion if she still desires one. […]

“Every additional day she must remain pregnant against her will places a severe strain on J.D., both physically and emotionally. Every additional week the government delays her abortion increases the risks associated with the procedure,” the teen’s attorneys wrote in the petition for en banc review filed with the D.C. Circuit just after 10 P.M. Eastern Time Sunday. “In a matter of weeks, J.D. will no longer be able to get an abortion at all, and the government will have forced J.D. to have a child against her will.”

Doe is already 15 weeks pregnant, and Texas bans abortions at 20 weeks. While there are varying opinions about the moral, ethical, and religious facets of abortion, this shouldn’t be a debate. And yet somehow, three different government agencies are weighing in and preventing Doe from having access to a medical procedure that the law and several judges all agree that she is entitled to—all under the guise of “caring for human dignity.”

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