A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has issued a temporary restraining order to prevent U.S. officials from blocking a 17-year-old immigrant who entered this country illegally and is being held in Texas from terminating her pregnancy.
“We won!” Austin attorney Susan Hays, legal director for Jane’s Due Process, said shortly after U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan issued her Oct. 19 order in Garza v. Hargan, et al. “Janes everywhere are rejoicing that their dignity and humanity have been restored by the court.
“As a lawyer, I feel so much better that the rule of law still means something in this country,” added Hays, who has been assisting the American Civil Liberties Union with the girl’s case.
In reporting on a hearing on the girl’s application for a TRO, The Washington Post noted that lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice had argued that the Central American teenager, who crossed the border into the United States from Mexico in September, did not have a constitutional right to an elective abortion in federal custody unless she was facing a medical emergency.
Chutkan ordered the defendants Eric Hargan, acting secretary of Health and Human Services, and two other federal officials, to transport Jane Doe or allow her to be transported by her guardian ad litem “promptly and without delay” to the abortion provider nearest to the shelter where she is living. The judge’s order requires that JD be allowed to receive state-mandated counseling by Oct. 19 and obtain an abortion no later than Oct. 21.
If the defendants are not immediately restrained from preventing the girl’s transportation to an abortion facility, she could “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,” the judge noted in her order.
The teen, who is reported to be about 15 weeks pregnant, previously obtained a judicial bypass that enables her to have an abortion without parental consent. Hays said private funds will pay for the girl’s abortion.
The judge’s order also temporarily restrains the defendants from forcing Jane Doe to reveal her abortion decision to anyone or from retaliating against her or the contractor that operates the shelter where she is living.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the judge’s order. Hays said she expects the DOJ to appeal.