The ACLU is trying to force the federal government to help facilitate two more abortions for unaccompanied illegal immigrant teens.
On Friday, the pro-abortion legal group filed a challenge on behalf of the 17-year-old minors; one is 10 weeks pregnant and the other is 22 weeks pregnant, according to the Washington Post.
The ACLU added the teens’ cases to a larger lawsuit that it filed this fall against the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, which oversees care for unaccompanied minor immigrants and refugees. The lawsuit challenges the department’s new life-affirming policies, which provide information and support to encourage teens to choose life for their unborn babies.
“Both minors have asked their respective doctors and their shelters for an abortion, but to date,” the department has “not allowed them to access abortion,” the ACLU wrote.
In response, the government argued that the young women, referred to as “Jane Roe” and “Jane Poe,” may not be mature enough to make the irreversible decision to abort their unborn babies.
It pointed out that Poe, who is 22 weeks pregnant, changed her mind just last week after saying she did not want an abortion, according to the report.
HHS, which provides care for illegal immigrant minors, “has strong and constitutionally legitimate interests in promoting its interest in life, in refusing to facilitate abortion, and in not providing incentives for pregnant minors to illegally cross the border to obtain elective abortions while in federal custody,” the government stated.
The department said the teens have several other options if they want abortions, including finding a sponsor or returning to their home country.
“If they choose not to exercise these options, HHS does not believe we are required to facilitate the abortion,” the department said in a statement.
However, the ACLU argued that the department is unconstitutionally blocking the teens from obtaining abortions.
“We’ve already stopped the Trump administration from blocking one young woman’s abortion,” said ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri in a statement. “It’s unreal that the federal government is trying to force more young women to continue their pregnancies against their will.”
A hearing is scheduled for Monday.
In October, the ACLU convinced a court to force the department to help facilitate an abortion for another “Jane Doe,” an illegal immigrant teen in Texas.
Later, Trump administration said the ACLU lied to its lawyers about when the teen’s abortion would take place, preventing it from appealing, the AP reports. Amiri and other ACLU lawyers could face disciplinary measures as a result.
News reports indicate the teen needed mental health counseling after aborting her unborn child.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been supporting the government’s efforts.
Paxton previously said the ACLU was using the Texas “Jane Doe” case to try to “create a right to abortion for anyone on earth who enters the U.S. illegally. And with that right, countless others undoubtedly would follow. Texas must not become a sanctuary state for abortions.”
Earlier this year, the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement adopted new, life-affirming policies under President Donald Trump’s appointee Scott Lloyd. The office oversees shelters where children stay until a sponsor or family member can be found to care for them.
Lloyd directed the shelters not to take “any action that facilitates” an abortion for unaccompanied minors without his direct approval, and that “grantees should not be supporting abortion services … only pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling.”
But abortion activists are angry that the government is encouraging counseling at pregnancy centers, rather than abortion businesses.
In mid October, HHS reported that it currently was caring for 43 pregnant illegal immigrant girls. Jonathan White, the department’s director for children’s programs, said in court documents that 18 of the minors requested an abortion, 11 had them, five changed their minds and two left government custody before making a final decision.