Minor Immigrant Detainee Abortions Approved by Court

By George Khoury, Esq. on December 20, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Recently, the issue of whether unaccompanied minor immigrant detainees, including unaccompanied minors, should have the right to get an abortion has been in the national spotlight. This is due to a change in federal policy that now prohibits the feds (HHS) from "facilitating" an abortion for this specific class of detainees. That policy seems to have led to the recently espoused and misguided sensationalist view that immigrants are illegally entering the country in order to secure free abortions.

A pair of recently decided cases by the federal district court in D.C. not only sheds light on the intricacies involved, but may also provide the basis for future cases. While the district court approved of the abortions in both cases, only one of the two cases will be challenged on appeal due to how far along each petitioner is in their pregnancy.

Federal Facilitation

The cases of Jane Roe and Jane Poe share nearly all the same facts except for how far along each is in their pregnancy, which is perhaps the most significant factor as to why only one appeal will be sought. Both Roe and Poe are able to pay for the abortions independently; however, the feds argue that merely transporting the petitioners to and from their abortions would be considered facilitating, and thus violate policy. The court did not find this convincing. It ruled that, in light of the October 2017 ruling in a similar case which ultimately allowed the immigrant minor in custody to have the abortion, the petitioners Roe and Poe would likely succeed in their cases.

Unfortunately for Poe, her case is being appealed simply because there is time to do so. Poe is 22 weeks along, and as such, would need to move with haste to get the procedure done as soon as possible. Roe is only 10 weeks along. The government argues that within two weeks, Roe could be placed in custody of a temporary sponsor who could transport her to and from the procedure, thereby avoiding the need for further court intervention.

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