SCOTUS Tosses Out Ruling That Allowed Unaccompanied Minors To Obtain Abortions

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The Supreme Court has granted the Trump administration’s request to throw out a lower court’s decision that allowed a pregnant immigrant minor in federal custody to access an abortion.

The justices issued a short, unsigned opinion on Monday that declared the lower court’s decision in the case known as Azar v. Garza had become “moot” because the 17-year-old already had the abortion.

The Trump administration has tried to block multiple unaccompanied minors in its custody from accessing abortions. In each case the young women were ultimately able to obtain abortions. The ACLU, which has represented the pregnant minors, said the young women were “resolute in their desire to have an abortion.” The procedures were paid for with private funds. 


Even so, the government has tried to block unaccompanied young people from accessing abortion.

The irony is that while the government has claimed it has a “strong and constitutionally legitimate interests in promoting childbirth, in refusing to facilitate abortion,” the Trump Administration is also hell-bent on making it easier to deport unaccompanied minors, who are often trying to save their own lives. 

The unaccompanied minors—most of whom fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—are detained in government-funded shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. That office is lead by Scott Lloyd, a Trump appointee who is determined to block immigrants from getting abortions.

Lloyd reportedly demands a weekly spreadsheet listing immigrants in his custody who have requested abortions with details of how far along they are in their pregnancy. Then sometimes he personally contacts the girls and tries to convince them not to have an abortion, even though he has no medical background.


(Last year the ACLU also filed a separate ongoing-class action lawsuit challenging the government’s policy of barring young immigrant women in government custody from getting abortions.)

The Justice Department accused the ACLU attorneys of misleading the government on the time-frame during which the unaccompanied minor would have her abortion. According to Reuters, “the Justice Department has said it was preparing to appeal that ruling to the Supreme Court when it learned she had already had the abortion early that morning.”


The Supreme Court shut down the Justice Department’s request to place disciplinary action against the ACLU attorneys.

“The Trump administration could have taken an immediate appeal to the Supreme Court, but failed to do so, and Doe had her abortion the next day,” the ACLU said in a statement after Monday’s ruling.


In court filings, the U.S. government said at least 420 pregnant unaccompanied minors were in federal custody last year, with 18 who sought abortions.

The U.S. administration wants to deport them, preferably pregnant or once they have a child.

Senior staff writer

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