A federal judge in Washington, D.C., late Friday blocked a Trump administration policy which inhibits illegal alien minors in federal custody from terminating their pregnancies.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, an Obama appointee, chastised the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) for centralizing all reproductive choices with the agency’s director, who must personally sanction all abortions for undocumented teens.
“ORR’s policy vests the power to decide the future of a UC’s pregnancy in one man: Director [Scott] Lloyd,” the decision reads.
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The enjoined ORR policy requires pregnant undocumented minor in federal custody to obtain an ultrasound, meet with an options counselor from a pre-approved list of providers, and provide signed, notarized consent from her parents before securing an abortion.
The “named” plaintiffs in the case include four pregnant female immigrants identified only by pseudonyms. Each immigrant was, at some point, pregnant and in ORR’s care.
The court also granted the lawsuit class status, allowing all undocumented pregnant minors in federal custody — now or in the future — to join the effort and obtain relief from administration policy.
Chutkan said the injunction was warranted because the ORR policy likely places an undue burden on abortion access. She also found the immigrant minors will suffer substantial harm absent judicial intervention.
“The record reveals that ORR effectively retains an absolute veto over the reproductive decision of any young woman in its custody, a veto that is exercised routinely to bar UCs from obtaining abortions, despite the fact that no public funds are expended to procure the procedures and notwithstanding the UC’s own wishes or intentions,” the decision reads. “In other words, ORR’s absolute veto nullifies a UC’s right to make her own reproductive choices.”
The administration counters that the government has no obligation to facilitate abortions, and that it may legitimately promote pro-life interests for women in its custody.
The decision may be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, though that panel found against the Trump administration in an earlier iteration of this litigation.
The American Civil Liberties Union organized the lawsuit. A Texas-based attorney named Rochelle Garza acts as guardian for the plaintiffs.
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