Trump Administration Continues to Block Jane Doe From Getting the Care She Needs


WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of the District of Columbia filed an emergency lawsuit in federal court today, this time in Washington, D.C., to fight on behalf of a young woman in Texas who is currently being prevented from accessing abortion care by the Trump administration.

Jane Doe, a pregnant teenager currently staying at a shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children in Texas, has been prevented from getting an abortion by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The ACLU challenged the obstruction earlier this week by adding her to an existing lawsuit it had against ORR in California, but a judge ruled that although the government had no justification for blocking the abortion, Doe’s case needed to be filed in a separate suit in a different court.

“Federal officials have no right to prevent this young woman from getting the care she needs. We’ve filed suit in federal court in Washington in the hope that we can put an end to these unconscionable delays,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Jane Doe is a brave and persistent young woman who has already been forced by the Trump administration to delay her abortion for weeks. The government is holding her hostage so that she will be forced to carry to term against her will.”

"It is mind-boggling that senior officials of the Department of Health and Human Services, who are supposed to be protecting the health and welfare of young people in their custody, would go to extraordinary lengths to force a pregnant teenager to bear a child against her will," said Arthur Spitzer, Legal Director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia, who is co-counsel in the case. "They each took an oath to support the Constitution. We think they ought to honor their oaths."

Jane Doe has already been subjected to egregious delays to her medical care as well as counseling and procedures without her consent:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services required her go to a government “approved” counselor at a religiously affiliated, anti-abortion “Crisis Pregnancy Center,” which urged her to continue her pregnancy.
  • Federal officials forced her to have a medically unnecessary sonogram against her will.
  • ORR blocked her from travelling to her medical visits, even after judicial authorization and after her court-appointed attorney and guardian have offered to provide transportation to the abortion provider. She has also secured private funding for her abortion.
  • Federal officials told Jane’s mother about her abortion despite her clear wishes not to tell her parents and despite Jane getting a court order under Texas law to consent to her abortion without notification of or consent from her parents. Jane did not want to involve her parents because they were physically abusive to an older sister who became pregnant.

Our client isn’t alone in suffering these gross injustices.

The ACLU’s motion for preliminary injunction describes attempts by ORR Director Scott Lloyd to personally coerce young women to carry their pregnancies to term instead of having an abortion, and to personally force them to go to religiously-affiliated “crisis pregnancy centers.”

In addition, shelters for unaccompanied immigrant children are being directed not to allow minors to seek judicial bypass for abortions or allow them to meet with attorneys, even if this is contrary to state law. In one case, a young woman was forcibly sent to an emergency room after she’d taken the abortion pill to try to prevent her from completing the abortion.

Attorneys on the case include Amiri, Meagan Burrows, and Daniel Mach from the ACLU; Arthur Spitzer and Scott Michelman of the ACLU of the District of Columbia; Jennifer Chou and Mishan R. Wroe of the ACLU of Northern California; and Melissa Goodman of the ACLU of Southern California. 

More about the case is here: