According to the 2017 policy, minors in government shelters or holding facilities were not permitted access to abortion facilities. Then-director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), Scott Lloyd, whose pro-life track record includes representing the parents of Terri Schiavo in court, has said that he does not believe in the dubious “constitutional right” to abortion, nor that it is “health care.” Lloyd thus argued it was not required for the ORR to provide it routinely to undocumented immigrants in federal care.
In a memo, Lloyd said that in the case of rape, “If the young woman was to go on to regret her abortion and experience it as a trauma, ORR will have had a hand in causing that trauma, and I am unwilling to put this young woman or ORR in that position.”
The policy was blocked in 2018, and that decision was upheld in the latest decision by the D.C. Court of Appeals. The case began with an unnamed 17-year-old “Jane Doe” who came to the United States illegally and alone. Without an accompanying adult, she was then given over to ORR. The minor eventually obtained the abortion after suing in federal court through the ACLU.
“We are unanimous in rejecting the government’s position that its denial of abortion access can be squared with Supreme Court precedent,” read part of the opinion. “The Supreme Court ‘has determined and then redetermined that the Constitution offers basic protection to the woman’s right to choose.’ And we are not free to dilute a constitutional right recognized by controlling Supreme Court precedent—a right the government affirmatively assumes unaccompanied minors here have—so that others will be dissuaded from seeking a better life in this country.”
The ruling, issued by Obama appointees Sri Srinivasan and Robert Wilkins, also rebuked now-Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, who in October 2017 had argued that ORR’s regulations amounted to nothing more than “government efforts to help minors navigate what is undeniably a difficult situation” through “reasonable regulations.”
The ACLU celebrated the decision over Twitter, calling the policy of preventing minors access to a dangerous and violent procedure “cruel,” while also claiming that abortion is “crucial health care,” leaving out the fact that an abortion purposely takes the life of an innocent human being in the womb.
⚖️🥳 Today a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of our challenge to the Trump administration’s policy of blocking abortions for immigrant teens in federal custody.
Abortion is a RIGHT, no matter your immigration status.
— ACLU (@ACLU) June 14, 2019
The sad reality is that, while abortion activists celebrate, rulings like this will continue to make it easier for predators to cover-up of sexual abuse of minors, and children will be forced to make grave decisions with lasting implications and effects that they do not fully understand.
The administration could either appeal the decision to the US Court of Appeals or request that the Supreme Court hear the case. If the latter, given his history with the case, Justice Kavanaugh would likely be forced to recuse himself, leaving the potential for a 4-4 split decision.
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