The government already has lost one case for trying to block an undocumented teenager in federal custody from having an abortion. Now, officials are under fire again for the same rights violations, including forcing immigrants in custody who want an abortion to attend right–wing, religious, anti–abortion “counseling.”
So, the American Civil Liberties Union has gone back to court to fight for two more undocumented 17–year–olds locked up in federal detention. On Friday evening, the ACLU filed court documents at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, on behalf of unaccompanied minors “Jane Roe” and “Jane Poe.” The documents seek a restraining order against Acting Health and Human Services Secretary Eric D. Hargan and others for obstructing the two teenagers’ access to abortions.
The lawsuit also seeks to prevent the government from:
“Forcing, coercing, or requiring Ms. Roe and Ms. Poe to obtain ‘counseling’ from an anti-abortion entity, including a crisis pregnancy center or ‘pregnancy resource center’ either before or after their abortions; forcing, coercing, or requiring Ms. Roe and Ms. Poe to notify anyone of their abortion decision, either before or after their abortions; disclosing Ms. Roe’s and Ms. Poe’s abortion decision themselves, either before or after their abortions, to her family or immigration sponsors; coercing or attempting to ‘persuade’ Ms. Roe and Ms. [P]oe to carry their pregnancies to term; or retaliating against Ms. Roe and Ms. [P]oe and the shelter staff who assist them based on their decision to have an abortion and their assistance, respectively.”
Roe learned of her pregnancy three weeks ago and subsequently asked for an abortion, while Poe sought an abortion last week. The lawsuit notes that both have been prevented from accessing abortion services, and Poe is running out of time to legally access one in the state where she is being held.
Information regarding where the two women are being held was withheld out of security concerns, The New York Times reported.
“Absent an immediate temporary restraining order, Ms. Roe and Ms. Poe will both be pushed further into their pregnancies, increasing the risks associated with the abortion procedure, and, if the Court does not intervene, Ms. Roe and Ms. Poe will be forced to carry to term against their will,” ACLU attorneys argued.
The Trump administration responded to the lawsuit by saying the pregnant teenagers “can leave the U.S.” if they want an abortion, according to The Washington Post.
“We’ve already stopped the Trump administration from blocking one young woman’s abortion. But the Trump administration is relentless in its cruelty, blocking abortion access for the most marginalized people in our country. #JusticeforJane,” the ACLU tweeted on Friday.
In the first case the ACLU won on the issue, “Jane Doe,” also 17, came to the U.S. from Central America without immigration authorization last September. She learned that she was pregnant after being detained, Newsweek reported. However, the Trump administration barred her from seeking an abortion.
A federal court sided with the ACLU and said the government’s actions were unlawful. After that ruling, Doe obtained an abortion the next day. According to the ACLU’s Brigitte Amiri, attorneys will be back in court on Monday in the new case.