The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services may appeal a court decision requiring the Trump administration to provide abortions for pregnant, illegal teens in federal custody, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
Though the Trump administration says it has no duty to facilitate abortions, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. found new government policy respecting pregnant minors in immigrant detention likely places an undue burden on abortion access.
“The Department of Health & Human Services strongly maintains that taxpayers are not responsible for facilitating the abortion of unaccompanied minors who entered the country illegally and are currently in the government’s care,” an HHS spokesperson told TheDCNF. “We are working closely with the Justice Department to review the court’s order and determine next steps.”
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Current Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) policy requires pregnant minors to obtain written, notarized permission from their parents before terminating a pregnancy. They also must submit for an ultrasound and meet with an options counselor. No abortions can proceed without the approval of agency Director Scott Lloyd.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, an Obama appointee, ruled late Friday the directives likely violate the Constitution.
Chutkan also granted the lawsuit class status, allowing all illegal pregnant minors in federal custody — now or in the future — to join the effort and obtain relief from administration policy. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) organized the effort.
Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political advocacy group, accused Chutkan and ACLU lawyers of exploiting taxpayers, government workers, and vulnerable women to promote a pro-choice agenda.
“For abortion extremists it is not enough that abortion on-demand is legal through all nine months of pregnancy,” SBA List told TheDCNF. “The abortion lobby, the ACLU, and pro-abortion ideologue judges like Tanya Chutkan are on a mission to force American taxpayers to facilitate abortions for vulnerable women and teen girls coming into the U.S. illegally.”
“We stand firmly behind Secretary Azaar, Scott Lloyd and others who seek to protect the life and dignity of all people in HHS’ care, born and unborn, and commend the Trump administration for refusing to be intimidated,” they added.
HHS can appeal Chutkan’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. They may struggle to gain traction with that court, however, as the full panel ruled against the administration in a six to three decision in an earlier iteration of this litigation. That case was occasioned in October 2017 when ORR refused to facilitate an abortion for a 17-year-old minor in their custody. The D.C. Circuit allowed the procedure to proceed, and the minor terminated her pregnancy on Oct. 25.
The abortion was performed before the Trump administration could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, so government lawyers asked the justices to sanction the minor’s attorneys. The high court has not yet acted on that request.
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