The US Constitution grants all women — including prisoners and undocumented immigrants — the right to an abortion, no matter what obstacles fundamentalist Christians may create in certain states. But since Trump’s inauguration, the administration has blocked young pregnant women who cross the border without papers from seeking abortions.
The San Francisco ACLU has now taken on one such case on behalf of Jane Doe, a pregnant 17-year-old who is being held in a federal immigration shelter in Texas. The shelter won’t allow her to visit the doctor who has agreed to perform her abortion.
“The government may not want to facilitate abortion, but it cannot block it,” US Magistrate Laurel Beeler told SFGate. “It is doing that here.”
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Several hundred undocumented pregnant women cross the border alone each year, but shelters do not allow minors to leave to get abortions without permission from the US Office of Refugee Resettlement. Instead, these women are forced to attend Christian-sponsored “crisis pregnancy centers” where they are falsely warned that abortions are dangerous, forced to look at sonograms of the fetus and pressured into carrying their pregnancies to term.
Jane Doe missed her first scheduled abortion on September 28 because the shelter forbade it, and she is now attending mandatory anti-abortion counseling.
“Jane Doe is a brave and persistent young woman who has already been forced by the Trump administration to delay her abortion for weeks,” ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri told SFGate. “The government is holding her hostage so that she will be forced to carry to term against her will.”
According to SFGate, Scott Lloyd, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, told a shelter staff person, “My priority is unborn children, and there will be no more abortions.”
Plenty of others are on his side. In response to the ACLU’s claim in court, seven states, including Texas, filed arguments stating that undocumented immigrants in American custody have no right to an abortion.