An undocumented Central American teenager was at the heart of an abortion debate raging in Texas and upsetting its courts. The 17-year-old undocumented immigrant, identified as Jane Doe in court documents, has been trying to access an abortion since late September. Today, she finally got the abortion she spent weeks fighting for.
After weeks fighting in court to get an abortion, the undocumented teen in Texas has had the procedure.
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By the time Doe received her abortion she was nearly 16 weeks pregnant. The unaccompanied minor first learned she was pregnant while detained in an HHS shelter. “I knew immediately what was best for me then, as I do now — that I’m not ready to be a parent,” Doe wrote in a statement.
The teen soon presented her case to a judge with the help of Jane’s Due Process and was given permission to terminate her pregnancy without parent approval. However, the procedure was soon blocked by the government who pressured her to see a doctor who attempted to discourage her from following through with the procedure. “Instead, they made me see a doctor that tried to convince me not to abort and to look at sonograms,” Doe’s statement reads. “People I don’t even know are trying to make me change my mind. I made my decision and that is between me and God. Through all of this, I have never changed my mind.”
Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have been representing Doe for weeks in their attempt to secure an abortion. Controversy over her request for the procedure rehashed debates concerning the constitutional rights of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
The teen was initially sided with by a federal judge who set dates for her to have the abortion last week, but by then Trump administration officials had the decision appealed. Following their petition, the case underwent a back-and-forth appeals process.
On Oct. 18, a US District judge ordered the Trump administration to give Doe access to the abortion. The procedure was quickly held up by another appeal issued by the US Department of Justice on Oct. 20. Later that Friday, a U.S. appeals court countered the ruling and gave a 2-part order to the government. Under the ruling, the Department of Health and Human Services had until October 31st to find a sponsor to take custody of Jane Doe, if they didn’t they had to release her so that she could be free to obtain it herself.
The teen, who was 16 weeks pregnant, was racing against Texas’ abortion restrictions which ban abortions after 20 weeks.
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Attorneys for Jane Doe argued that all options for a sponsor had been exhausted. The decision by the full appeals court in Washington D.C. allows them to bypass that requirement since Jane Doe is a minor.
Jane Doe’s case was particularly unique because she was in the custody of Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
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Officials of the ORR have actively been denying undocumented minors access to abortions since Donald Trump’s election. Catherine H. Dorsey, who represented the U.S. government in the case, argued that the government had no responsibility in facilitating the abortion. Controversy over Doe’s case has raised the question of whether or not the right to an abortion which has been established by the U.S. Supreme Court for U.S. residents extends to undocumented immigrant women.
Many on Twitter are celebrating this as a victory for women’s reproductive rights using the hashtag #JusticeForJane.
— Amy Resistnik (@AmyHoodwink) October 25, 2017
The fight isn't over yet but I'm so happy to hear good news for #JusticeForJane
— Stephanie (@CucumberSteph) October 25, 2017
— Lauren Schacher (@LaurenSchacher) October 25, 2017
— sana – سنا (@sanaalovee) October 25, 2017
And there are plenty who don’t see a reason to celebrate.
Excuse me for not celebrating the death of an unborn child. #justiceforjane
— tiffany (@Tiffany1985B) October 25, 2017
I love it how #JusticeForJane just an excuse to demoralize oneself & alow murder to be something that is no "Big Deal"
— Morality Of One Man (@MoralityOfAMan) October 25, 2017
Jane Doe says she is grateful for the outpour of support during this lengthy legal battle.
“My lawyers have told me that people around the country have been calling and writing to show support for me,” Jane Doe said in a statement. “I am touched by this show of love from people I may never know and from a country I am just beginning to know—to all of you, thank you. This is my life, my decision. I want a better future. I want justice.”
And, while many people are celebrating a ruling they perceive as justice, those at the ACLU warn that the fight is not over.
“Justice prevailed today for Jane Doe. But make no mistake about it, the Administration’s efforts to interfere in women’s decisions won’t stop with Jane,” Brigitte Amiri, the senior staff attorney for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement. “With this case we have seen the astounding lengths this administration will go to block women from abortion care. We will not stop fighting until we have justice for every woman like Jane.”