Trump Administration Continues to Block Young Woman’s Abortion

October 22, 2017 


WASHINGTON — Tonight, the American Civil Liberties Union filed new court papers in its continuing effort to help Jane Doe, a young immigrant woman in Texas, get an abortion that the Trump administration has been blocking for more than four weeks.  

Late Friday, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an order that, sidestepped the serious constitutional questions and allowed the government to further delay her ability to obtain an abortion.  Tonight, the ACLU filed an emergency petition for en banc review which asks all of the judges on the D.C. Circuit Court to review the panel’s order.

“Weeks have passed with no resolution for Jane Doe,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “As we continue to fight for her ability to make her own decision about whether to end her pregnancy, the Trump administration continues its staggering overreach by holding her hostage and preventing her from getting an abortion.”

On Friday, the court ruled that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could have until October 31 to identify and vet a sponsor and release Jane Doe to that sponsor.  If HHS cannot find a suitable sponsor in that time frame, the court’s order states that the lower court may re-enter its order requiring the government to release her for an abortion, but that order would be subject to appeals.  

The order was issued over a vigorous dissent by Judge Patricia Millett which stated: “The government’s refusal to release [Jane] from custody is not just a substantial obstacle; it is a full-on, unqualified denial of and prohibition on [Jane’s] right to make her own reproductive choice.”  Judge Millett argued, “[f]orcing her to continue an unwanted pregnancy just in the hopes of finding a sponsor that has not been found in the past six weeks sacrifices [Jane’s] constitutional liberty, autonomy, and personal dignity for no justifiable governmental reason.”

Jane Doe is a 17-year-old undocumented woman who came to the United States without her parents and is currently being held in a government-funded shelter in Texas under HHS supervision. Weeks ago she decided to end her pregnancy, and obtained permission from a state court judge to do so, but federal officials have refused to allow her to leave the clinic to obtain the abortion.

“Every day that goes by is an injustice,” said Amiri.  “While the government delays, there is a 17 year old young woman waiting to find out whether she can have the abortion she wants or whether our government will force her to continue this pregnancy against her will.  We are asking the court to put a stop to this now.”   

Attorneys on the case include Amiri, Meagan Burrows, Jennifer Dalven 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 information about the Garza v. Hargan case, including legal documents, is at: