An appeals court has ruled that an undocumented teenager living in Texas must be allowed to get an abortion.
An appeals court has ruled that an undocumented teenager living in Texas must be allowed to get an abortion.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

D.C. Circuit Gives Undocumented Woman Detained in Texas Go-Ahead for Abortion

Update 10:25 a.m.: According to an announcement from Jane Doe's attorney's, their client terminated her pregnancy Wednesday morning.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Tuesday afternoon that an undocumented teenager living in a Texas federal detention center must immediately be allowed to terminate her pregnancy. The court's decision reverses a decision made last week by a three-judge panel that blocked her from getting an abortion until at least Oct. 31.

On Oct. 18, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan ruled that the federal government must provide the 17-year-old, known as Jane Doe, with transportation to and from her abortion appointments "promptly and without delay" or allow a third party to do so. The Trump administration, with help from a cohort of state attorneys general led by Texas' Ken Paxton, appealed the decision, securing relief from the D.C. Circuit the day before the 17-year-old's scheduled abortion Oct 20.

Paxton said that if the court allowed Doe to get an abortion, it would make Texas a safe haven for immigrants hoping to get an abortion.

"The D.C. Circuit made the right decision to temporarily stay the district court’s order, which contradicts U.S. Supreme Court precedent and harms the public interest because it effectively creates a right to abortion for anyone who entered the U.S. illegally, no matter how briefly,” Paxton said. “Texas must not become a sanctuary state for abortions."

The circuit court rejected arguments from Paxton and the Department of Justice, ruling that the federal government violated Doe's right to constitutionally protected due process when it refused to provide her transportation to her medical appointments. Debra Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth, an advocacy organization promoting sexual health and education for teenagers, celebrated the decision but expressed regret that the Trump administration elected to appeal the lower court decision.

"The Trump administration has managed to set the bar lower than ever before in its attempts to coerce vulnerable teenagers into giving birth. Dragging Jane Doe and others through such a humiliating experience is unacceptable," she said.

Doe could still face a critical wait as she seeks to terminate her pregnancy, as the Trump administration could appeal the circuit court's decision to the Supreme Court. Doe is almost 16 weeks pregnant, and the state of Texas bans all abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy.

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