The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on Friday that the Trump administration must stop denying abortion care to undocumented minors in federal custody.
Beginning in 2017, the Trump administration directed shelters not to facilitate abortions for the undocumented immigrant children in their custody. In October 2017, the ACLU challenged the government’s policy that amounted to a “blanket abortion ban” on behalf of several undocumented minors in federal custody who were denied access to abortions. In March 2018, the US District Court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction that prohibited the government from interfering with the minors’ access to abortion.
Friday’s per curiam decision unanimously upheld the district court’s injunction. The three-judge panel held that:
Under binding Supreme Court precedent, a person has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy before fetal viability, and the government cannot unduly burden her decision. The government accepts the applicability of that settled framework to unaccompanied alien children in its custody. Those controlling principles dictate affirming the district court’s preliminary injunction against the government’s blanket denial of access to abortion for unaccompanied minors. We are unanimous in rejecting the government’s position that its denial of abortion access can be squared with Supreme Court precedent.
While the appeals court upheld the injunction in primary part, it vacated and remanded a portion of it that bars disclosure to parents and others of an unaccompanied minor’s pregnancies and abortion decisions. The court concluded that the district court must provide a further explanation to aid appellate review of this aspect of the injunction.