In an ongoing case to determine whether an illegal immigrant teenager can receive an abortion in the U.S., a federal appeals court heard oral arguments Friday.
“The government is causing her irreparable harm” by forcing her to remain pregnant against her will, plaintiff attorney Rochelle Garza said during oral arguments.
The defense attorney responded by saying the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is “not putting an obstacle in her path, but declining her an abortion.” She added that the girl — who crossed the border illegally Sept. 7 and is 15 weeks pregnant — can sign for “voluntary departure” at any point.
The ruling comes after D.C.’s Court of Appeals temporarily blocked a judge’s Wednesday ruling, allowing the detained immigrant to have an abortion, according to NPR. The stay on the order came after HHS filed an appeal Wednesday night when Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled in favor of the teen. Chutkan ruled that the government must either take the 17-year-old expectant mother the abortion clinic, or allow her guardian to take her, according to Politico.
The three circuit judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals issued a delay on the case after Chutkan’s ruling in order to facilitate further oral arguments and decide whether to grant the HHS emergency motion. The court did rule, however, to allow the teen to attend a counseling session Thursday, a prerequisite for all abortions performed in D.C.
The court’s decision to again delay ruling on the case comes after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said Tuesday that pregnant illegal immigrants have no right to abortion in the U.S. because they aren’t citizens.
The court will resume its hearing Monday at 9:30 a.m.
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