On Monday a federal judge found that the Trump Administration cannot block two more undocumented teens from accessing abortions. But the fight is not over; the ruling was issued with a 24-hour stay so that the administration could appeal the ruling. Just after the decision came down, the government appealed the ruling to the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court.
US District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan addressed the situation of the women who are currently in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the government agency that's in charge of resettling refugees and undocumented minors. She wrote that her ruling was necessary to protect the women's "constitutional right to decide whether to carry their pregnancies to term."
Their situation is very similar to another woman, given the name Jane Doe, who was initially denied an abortion while under the supervision of the ame agency. She was able to have one, but only after a month's wait and many rounds of appeals. Chutkan was the same judge to initially hear that case.
In a statement to Bustle, Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and a lawyer working on the case, painted the ruling as a win, noting that "justice prevailed":
The judge’s decision is a reminder that both the law and justice are on our side. We’ve already seen the courts rule in favor of Jane Doe, and today justice prevailed for two more young women like her. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has shown no indication that they’ll abandon their cruel and dystopian crusade to block abortion access for some of the most marginalized people in our country. We’re prepared to keep fighting for as long as we need to.
The ACLU further detailed what they claim is troublesome new policy by the Office of Refugee Resettlement . Not only have the women been denied access to abortions, but they have forced them to attend religious anti-abortion centers to receive counseling that pressures them to continue their pregnancies as well as have unwanted sonograms. They've also kept them from medical appointments, the ACLU contends.
Bustle reached out to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and its director Scott Lloyd for comment through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the area of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) that the agency falls under. The ACF responded with the following statement:
We are deeply disappointed in the decision to grant a temporary restraining order that will compel HHS to facilitate abortions for minors when they are not medically necessary. A pregnant minor who has entered the country illegally has the option to voluntarily depart to her home country or identify a suitable sponsor. HHS-funded facilities that provide temporary shelter and care for unaccompanied alien minors should not become way stations for these children to get taxpayer-facilitated abortions.
Lloyd has, according to the ACLU, even contacted some of these women personally, urging them to carry their pregnancies to term. Shelters who are contracted by the Office of Refugee Resettlement are not to allow women to see attorneys or otherwise seek to get an abortion unless Lloyd personally approves.
Last week the Administration for Children and Families did comment to the Associated Press about the women. "The minors in this case — who entered the country illegally — have the option to voluntarily depart to their home country or find a suitable sponsor. If they choose not to exercise these options, HHS does not believe we are required to facilitate the abortion," the statement provided to the AP read.
Those fighting the Trump Administration have found allies in 12 state attorneys general who have pushed the federal government to allow the women abortion access. The group, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a statement in support of the women:
Forcing women to remain pregnant against their will is cruel, inhumane, and entirely illegal. The federal government has no authority to deny these women access to abortion services and we are confident that federal courts will overwhelmingly agree. We will not allow this administration to prey on young and vulnerable women in pursuit of a radical anti-abortion agenda. We will continue to fight alongside our allies to ensure these women receive the justice they deserve.
If a further stay is not granted, the woman should be able to access abortion as soon as Tuesday. It is unclear what states they're being held in, but one is almost 22 weeks pregnant. In many states abortion is no longer a legal option after 22 or 24 weeks. The woman does not have time for endless appeals.