Appeals Court Allows Abortion For Undocumented Teen Held ‘Hostage’ At Federal Facility

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In the latest turn of an escalating legal battle, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday in favor of an undocumented pregnant teenager being held at a federal facility to allow her to receive an abortion. She went through with the procedure today, according to Politico.

The case centered around a 17-year-old girl identified as “Jane Doe,” being held at a shelter in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas that is funded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled with six in favor and three against, a decision that overturned a prior ruling on Oct. 20 that would have stalled the procedure by giving the HHS until Oct. 31 to secure a sponsor for the girl.

That sponsor would allow her to actually leave the facility to have the procedure. Until now, the shelter has prevented her from leaving the facility, despite Doe receiving judicial permission to have the abortion without parental consent.

“Defendants are essentially holding [Jane Doe] hostage to prevent her from getting an abortion in blatant violation of [Jane Doe’s] constitutional rights,” Doe’s attorneys wrote in the complaint asking the court for an injunction on Oct. 13.

Susan Hays, legal director for the nonprofit Jane’s Due Process, told Politico that finding Doe a sponsor would not have necessarily allowed the abortion in an “expeditious manner.”

“Punting the issue for eleven more days is a further violation of her rights by forcing her to delay her abortion and later obtain a more invasive, lengthier, more uncomfortable, and more expensive procedure,” she said.

About 16 weeks pregnant, Doe had just weeks before she would have been unable to go through with the procedure. Texas prohibits abortion in most scenarios after 20 weeks.

The lawsuit names Rochelle Garza as the plaintiff, her court-appointed guardian. The defendant includes Eric Hargan, the acting secretary for the HHS.

Despite a growing false narrative that Doe’s abortion would use taxpayer funds, Jane’s Due Process would help foot the bill by collecting money from local funds, according to the New York Times.

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Jano Tantongco is the online editor of Long Island Wins. He's previously worked in community journalism as a staff reporter for The Long Islander and The Queens Courier. He aims to pursue truth through a combination of rational inquiry and intuition. He also enjoys bossa nova, road trips and zen philosophy.

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