Court Allows Undocumented Teen to Get Abortion

By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 27, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A pregnant teenager illegally entered the United States and sought an abortion.

But federal authorities in Texas detained her and denied her access to abortion services. Two months later -- and 15 weeks pregnant -- a federal appeals court has granted her plea.

"Surely the mere act of entry into the United States without documentation does not mean that an immigrant's body is no longer her or his own," Judge Patricia Millett wrote in Garza v. Hargan.

Immediate Relief

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said she may go to an abortion clinic "promptly and without delay." It took an en banc court to grant her access after a smaller panel delayed the 17-year-old's petition last week.

The court split 6-3 along ideological lines, Reuters reported. The Trump Administration had opposed the young woman's case, and is reviewing the order.

"Jane Doe" had obtained a judge's approval for the abortion and secured funds to pay for it, but the three-judge panel said she had to have a sponsor. The en banc panel removed that requirement.

"Fortunately, today's decision rights a grave constitutional wrong by the government," Millett wrote in her concurring opinion.

Dissent: "Radical Extension"

Judges Brett Kavanaugh, Karen LeCraft Henderson, and Thomas Griffith dissented.

"The majority's decision represents a radical extension of the Supreme Court's abortion jurisprudence," Kavanaugh wrote.

He said the appellate court had created a wrong and novel right for illegal immigrants to obtain immediate "abortion on demand."

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