It sounds like something out of A Handmaid’s Tale. A young undocumented immigrant held in a Texas detention center sought an abortion, only to be denied the requested medical care by the federal government on the grounds that her parents aren’t here to sign off on the procedure. Now she’s at the center of a legal battle between the Texas Attorney General and the ACLU.
“The Trump administration’s action is shocking,” said Brigitte Amiri, an ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project senior staff attorney said in an organization statement. “A young woman is essentially being held hostage and forced by federal officials to continue a pregnancy against her will.”
An important detail — the minor woman in question went through the proper channels to get legal permission for the procedure according to state guidelines. She successfully petitioned for a judicial waver that should have allowed her to get an abortion without parental consent, but federal officials refused to transport her to the clinic.
She’s not the only one. The ACLU also described the plight of other minor immigrant women fighting the feds for bodily autonomy. The motion for preliminary injunction describes attempts by not only Homeland Security employees but ORR Director Scott Lloyd himself to talk young women out of their decisions to terminate their pregnancies, and to force them to go to religiously-affiliated crisis pregnancy centers.
As for Texas’ argument in this case, Attorney General Ken Paxton made this argument in his brief (the case will be heard this week):
“No federal court has ever declared that unlawfully-present aliens with no substantial ties to this country have a constitutional right to abortion on demand. If ‘Doe’ prevails in this case, the ruling will create a right to abortion for anyone on earth who enters the U.S. illegally. And with that right, countless others undoubtedly would follow. Texas must not become a sanctuary state for abortions.”
Meanwhile, more young women than ever are being rounded by a newly beefed up ICE after President Trump rolled back protections for the children of undocumented immigrants. As Ms. Amiri put it, “Nationally, the federal government is obstructing young immigrant women’s access to abortion. It’s blatantly unconstitutional, not to mention unconscionable.”