The Trump Administration has accused civil rights lawyers of misleading the Department of Justice when they helped an immigrant teen obtain a legal abortion.
It's the latest in a recent case that has redefined how the White House addresses abortion access — and has the potential to land in the Supreme Court.
It began when a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant (nicknamed "Jane Doe") entered the United States in September by herself, and was sent to live in a federal facility in Brownsville for unaccompanied and undocumented immigrant minors. Like federal prisoners, immigrants in federal custody are legally granted access to health care, including abortions. But when Doe requested an abortion, it was unexpectedly denied by the feds, prompting the ACLU's involvement.
After weeks of hearings and appeals in federal courts across the country, a D.C. federal appeals court finally granted Doe access to an abortion on Oct. 24
— over a month after her initial request. She went through with the procedure
the following morning.
The DOJ is upset that the ACLU did not let the government know exactly when Doe was going to obtain her abortion — even though she was under no obligation to do so. The DOJ claims they were planning on appealing the Oct. 24 decision, which tells the ACLU that the feds are simply upset that Doe got an abortion before they could stop her.
“This administration has gone to astounding lengths to block this young woman from getting an abortion. Now, because they were unable to stop her, they are raising baseless questions about our conduct," said ACLU Legal Director David Cole. "Our lawyers acted in the best interest of our client and in full compliance with the court orders and federal and Texas law. That government lawyers failed to seek judicial review quickly enough is their fault, not ours."
The DOJ asked the Supreme Court Friday to vacate the appeals court ruling that allowed Doe to get an abortion. While she's already had the procedure, this move could keep any future teenage immigrant from getting a legal abortion in the U.S.
In a threatening Friday statement, DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley said that “discipline may be warranted against Jane Doe’s attorneys.”