WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Obama-appointed U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ordered the Trump administration on Monday to "promptly and without delay" allow two pregnant immigrant teens in U.S. custody to access abortion services.
Both of the 17-year-olds are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU). One teen, identified as Jane Roe, is about 10 weeks pregnant. The other, identified as Jane Poe, requested an abortion earlier this month after being told by her doctor that she is approaching 22 weeks.
If the government continues to block the teenagers' access to abortion, Chutkan wrote, they "will both suffer irreparable injury in the form of, at a minimum, increased risk to their health, and perhaps the permanent inability to obtain a desired abortion to which they are legally entitled."
Within an hour of the judge's ruling, the administration had simultaneously asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court to intervene. The individual cases are part of a broader lawsuit challenging the government's new policy of discouraging, and even blocking, undocumented teens in custody from terminating pregnancies. Since March, the Trump administration has refused to "facilitate" abortions for unaccompanied minors taken into federal custody after crossing the border illegally. The government says the minors have the option of voluntarily returning to their home countries or could be released to sponsors in the United States who presumably could help them end their pregnancies.
This is the second case that the ACLU has brought up recently to allow undocumented teens to obtain abortions. Earlier this year, the ACLU challenged a ruling in Garza v. Hargan that was preventing a young immigrant from Central America, identified as Jane Doe, from obtaining an abortion. Chutkan was also the presiding judge. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of Doe and the ACLU and she was able to have an abortion in October.
"This outrageous decision is an example of judicial activism and is shameful," said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. "This decision forces the American taxpayers to fund human genocide. An additional irony is that an illegal minor can require Americans to abort her child which otherwise would soon be born as an American citizen. The judge totally ignores the deadly harm to the child. President Trump and the administration would be well within their rights to refuse to enforce this extreme opinion," said Staver.