By Dave Andrusko
The ACLU is reporting that “Jane Moe,” a pregnant 17-year-old undocumented teenager, was released from a federally funded shelter and transferred to the care of her sponsor on Sunday. This meant she was free to have an abortion, but as of this afternoon, the ACLU is not saying whether she has.
The Washington Post confirmed the account today, reporting, “In a court filing Sunday, deputy ORR [Office of Refugee Resettlement] director Jonathan White said the teen, Jane Moe, had been escorted to her approved sponsor and officially released from government custody.”
“Jane Moe” is the fourth undocumented pregnant teenager in federal custody whose request to abort was at odds with the policy of the Trump administration not to “facilitate” abortions of unaccompanied minors. However once she was transferred to a sponsor, that no longer applied.
However, like the three prior cases (all of whom aborted),this is part of a much larger confrontation. The Post’s Ann E. Marimow explained:
Pending before U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan in Washington is the question of whether the ACLU can proceed with its larger challenge to the Trump administration’s policy of refusing to “facilitate” abortions for unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border illegally. That policy potentially affects hundreds of teens being held in federally funded shelters.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement within the Department of Human Services has said the minors have the option of returning to their home countries or finding sponsors in the U.S. as Jane Moe did in the most recent case.
In a story that ran last week, the Post reported, “There were 420 pregnant girls in custody during fiscal 2017, according to court records.”
A number of state attorneys general have gone further. “Texas and 10 other states have made repeated efforts to get three federal courts to rule that, as illegal entrants to the U.S. with no more tie to this country than the fact that they are detained by the government, the young immigrants have no constitutional rights, including no right to an abortion,” veteran Supreme Court reporter Lyle Denniston has written. They want the Supreme Court to rule explicitly that “unlawfully-present aliens with virtually no connections to the United States have no constitutional right to an elective abortion.”
Simultaneously, the Justice Department is also addressing the specifics of the first undocumented teenager (“Jane Doe”) who did abort in late October after a split DC Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with before U.S. District Judge Tanya S.Chutkan.
As NRL News Today has discussed in previous stories, the Justice Department is challenging the behavior of the ACLU lawyers.
In November the Justice Department filed a 29 page petition, arguing that “the ACLU misled the United States as to the timing of Jane Doe’s abortion,” according to Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley. “After informing Justice Department attorney the procedure would occur on October 26th, Jane Doe’s attorneys scheduled the abortion for the early morning hours of October 25th, thereby thwarting Supreme Court review.” The Justice Department seeks some unspecified form of punishment.
Denniston wrote, “The more important part of that appeal, though, is the Administration’s request for the Justices to answer this question: should lower courts be ordered to dismiss all claims for release from detention regarding minors who entered the country alone and are or were found to be pregnant?” As noted, these teenagers are currently being held in HHS- funded shelters in different states.
Dennison concluded that the first issue the Supreme Court justices will confront “is whether to grant review. If they do accept the case, it could be decided before the end of the current term, probably in late June.”