The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] on Thursday temporarily blocked [order, PDF] a lower court ruling permitting a 17-year-old unidentified undocumented immigrant to have an abortion by her own choice.
In her declaration statement [text, PDF] to the lower court, the teenager claimed that the government forced her “to obtain counseling from a religiously affiliated crisis pregnancy center” where she was “forced to look at the sonogram.” The teenager further claimed: “I feel like they are trying to coerce me to carry my pregnancy to term. … I do not want to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against my will. … I do not want my family to know that I am seeking an abortion.”
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) [official website], and other federal and state officials claimed that the teenager has no inherent right [NPR report] to an elective abortion in the US because of her lack of legal status as an undocumented immigrant. Judge Tanya Chutkan of the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] granted a temporary restraining order [text, PDF] on Wednesday ordering the government to transport the teenager or allow her guardian to do so:
promptly and without delay to the abortion provider closest to [Jane Doe’s] shelter in order to obtain the counseling required by state law on October 19, 2017, and to obtain the abortion procedure on October 20, 2017 and/or October 21, 2017, as dictated by the abortion providers’ availability and any medical requirements.
In granting the order, Chutkan stated that the teenager will suffer “irreparable injury in the form of, at a minimum, increased risk to her health, and perhaps the permanent inability to obtain a desired abortion to which she is legally entitled if the government is not immediately restrained from preventing her transportation to an abortion facility.
The DC Circuit stayed the part of the lower court’s order that requires the government to transport the teenager to a facility to have an abortion procedure performed. The remaining portions of Chutkan’s order, including that concerning the obtaining of counseling, remains effective. The court added: “The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion for stay and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion.”
A response was due to the court by 2:00 PM on Thursday, while a reply to the response was due at 8:00 PM the same day. The court has also scheduled oral argument on the matter on Friday at 10:00 AM.