Activists with Planned Parenthood demonstrate in support of a pregnant 17-year-old being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children to obtain an abortion, outside of the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Chuck Lindell, Austin American-Statesman
A teenage immigrant at the center of a legal fight over her choice to have an abortion was released from federal custody under a court order and had the procedure Wednesday morning, her lawyers announced.
Identified in court documents as Jane Doe, the Central American teenager also issued a statement through her lawyers that criticized federal officials for putting her through a month-long legal fight to get the abortion.
“They made me see a doctor that tried to convince me not to abort and to look at sonograms,” the 17-year-old said. “People I don’t even know are trying to make me change my mind. I made my decision and that is between me and God. Through all of this, I have never changed my mind.
“No one should be shamed for making the right decision for themselves. I would not tell any other girl in my situation what they should do. That decision is hers and hers alone,” she said.
Doe’s lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union vowed to continue fighting the federal policy that had blocked Doe from getting an abortion for more than a month. Under a policy adopted in March, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees minors detained after illegally crossing the border without a parent, does not allow those teens to leave custody to have an abortion.
“Justice prevailed today for Jane Doe. But make no mistake about it, the administration’s efforts to interfere in women’s decisions won’t stop with Jane,” ACLU lawyer Brigitte Amiri said. “With this case we have seen the astounding lengths this administration will go to block women from abortion care. We will not stop fighting until we have justice for every woman like Jane.”
The Trump administration argued that it had a legitimate interest in promoting childbirth over abortion. Doe’s lawyers said the government’s actions placed an improper obstacle to a constitutionally protected procedure.
Last week, a federal district judge in Washington, D.C., ordered officials to let Doe leave her government-funded shelter in Texas for the abortion.
Administration lawyers appealed, and a three-judge panel blocked the order and gave federal officials until Oct. 31 to find an adult sponsor to take custody of Doe, which could have allowed her to get an abortion without requiring federal officials to violate administration rules against taking action to “facilitate” an abortion.
The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overruled the panel Tuesday, clearing the way for Doe’s abortion.