One week after an undocumented 17-year-old known as “Jane Doe” was allowed to exercise her constitutional right to an abortion by a panel of federal judges, officials for the Department of Justice have filed a petition with the Supreme Court protesting her abortion and demanding that the attorneys who represent Doe be punished.
At issue is exactly when Doe’s abortion itself occurred, less than 24 hours after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Of Columbia Circuit ruled she could move ahead with the medical procedure. According to the DOJ, Doe’s attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union moved ahead with her abortion without giving them time to file their intended appeal to the Supreme Court.
“The ACLU misled the United States as to the timing of Jane Doe’s abortion,” a DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley said. “After informing Justice Department attorneys that the procedure would occur on October 26, Jane Doe’s attorneys scheduled the abortion for the early morning hours of October 25, thereby thwarting Supreme Court review.”
The ACLU responded in a series of tweets.
“This administration has gone to astounding lengths to block this young woman from getting an abortion,” ACLU Legal Director David Cole explained in a separate statement. He added:
Now, because they were unable to stop her, they are raising baseless questions about our conduct. Our lawyers acted in the best interest of our client and in full compliance with the court orders and federal and Texas law. That government lawyers failed to seek judicial review quickly enough is their fault, not ours.
It is unclear what sort of punishment the court might assign to the ACLU attorneys should it rule in favor of the DOJ. However, given that Jane Doe’s abortion has already taken place, it’s hard not to see the DOJ’s move as purely vindictive.