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Trump Administration Can't Block Undocumented Immigrants From Seeking Abortions

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. says that at least for now, the Trump administration can't block undocumented minors in federal care from seeking abortions.
Blink O'fanaye
A federal judge in Washington, D.C. says that at least for now, the Trump administration can't block undocumented minors in federal care from seeking abortions.

On Friday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., said the Trump administration cannot prevent young, undocumented women in federal custody from seeking abortions.

That includes interfering with or blocking medical appointments, abortion counseling, and abortion services.

It protects minors without guardians, who come under the control of Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement, from being forced to share if they are pregnant and whether they are considering having an abortion. It also protects contractors that provide shelter to those who have sought pregnancy, abortion, and abortion-related medical care.

The decision in Garza v. Hargan stems back to October, when American Civil Liberties Union attorneys asked a federal court in Washington to force the Trump administration to allow a 17-year-old from Central America to obtain an abortion.

At the time, she was detained in Texas and federal officials would not let her leave her shelter for the procedure. Government lawyers argued that the Trump administration was focused on " child birth and fetal life," which meant it didn't have to help her move forward in her efforts to get an abortion. Eventually she was able to receive the procedure.

A HHS official told The Washington Post in October that Scott Lloyd, one of the officials named in the U.S. District Court order and the director of its Office of Refugee Resettlement, "personally intervened" in attempts to convince young women to abstain from having abortions. The spokesperson compared him to a "foster parent" and said, "When there's a child in the program who is pregnant, he has been reaching out to her and trying to help as much as possible with life-affirming options."

In December, Lloyd said in a deposition that immigrants had no constitutional right to abortion because of their immigration status.

The ACLU welcomed Thursday's outcome, tweeting:

In a written statement, Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project responded, "The Trump administration's cruel policy of blocking young immigrant women in federal custody from accessing abortion is a blatant abuse of power. We are relieved that the court issued an order preventing the administration from continuing this practice while our case proceeds. With today's rulings, we are one step closer to ending this extreme policy once and for all and securing justice for all of these young women."

It is temporary injunction.

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Sasha Ingber is a reporter on NPR's breaking news desk, where she covers national and international affairs of the day.
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