The Trump administration has taken steps to prevent underage, undocumented immigrants from getting abortions.
Politico.com reports that Washington recently worked to stop a teenage girl detained at a Brownsville, TX, refugee shelter from obtaining an abortion.
Immigration advocates say the girl wasn’t the first to be denied the service since President Trump assumed office.
Since the current commander-in-chief’s inauguration, the Health and Human Services Department has intervened in abortion cases involving underaged and undocumented minors. The agency has been proactive for seven months, flexing its power in shelters funded by the federal government.
The HHS has allegedly even prevented minors who became pregnant as the result of rape and incest from obtaining abortions – Politico writes that agency officials even went so far as calling or visiting teenage girls in attempts to talk them into keeping their fetuses.
“There is a pattern of unconstitutional overreach of power in a minor’s abortion decision,” said the Brownsville girl’s lawyer, Brigitte Amiri of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU filed the suit on Friday.
The teenage girl had apparently received permission from a judge to obtain an abortion, and had independently acquired the funds necessary to pay for one.
The 17-year old immigrant is 14 weeks pregnant – within the window allowed for abortions under Texas state law.
Politico reports that a judge authorized the girl – referred to only as Jane Doe in court documents – to obtain an abortion on September 25th. She had an initial appointment scheduled for three days later, but was denied transportation to the clinic by the Office of Refugee Settlement, which is overseen by the Health and Human Services Department.
Rather than working in synch with the girl and the court’s authorization, HHS officials took the teenager to a pregnancy crisis center and called her mother to inform her of the pregnancy.
“What’s especially disturbing for us about this case, is that the child is in the custody of the ORR, so she has no other choice, and she is stuck in a form of custody or detention,” said Michelle Brane of the Women’s Refugee Commission.
A statement released by the HHS on Monday stood by its decision, saying the agency was within its rights to stop the teenage girl from following through with her court-approved abortion.
“The Office of Refugee Resettlement is providing excellent care to this young woman and her unborn child and fulfilling our duty to the American people,” said the statement from the Administration for Children and Families, a division of HHS, as reported by Politico.
The statement continued to say “There is no constitutional right for a pregnant minor to illegally cross the U.S. border and get an elective abortion while in federal custody.
Federal law is very clear on giving the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement the legal responsibility to decide what is in the best interests of a minor in the unaccompanied alien children program and, in this case, her unborn baby. We cannot cede our responsibility to care for minors and their babies by releasing them to ideological advocacy groups.”
The HHS’ actions under Trump evidence a sharp divergence in policy between the commander-in-chief and his predecessor.
When Barack Obama was serving as president, the HHS tended to authorize and allow abortions for underage, undocumented aliens in the case of rape and incest, as well as those in which the mother’s life was put in danger by pregnancy.