One of the pregnant teens at the center of a new legal battle between the ACLU and the Trump administration has been released from federal custody after authorities said she lied about her age.
The illegal immigrant teen had requested an abortion while staying at a government shelter for minors. Last week, the ACLU sued to force the government to help facilitate her abortion.
But in an unexpected turn of events, CNN reports the unnamed young woman, who is 19, not 17, no longer is in government custody. Federal authorities said they released the young woman after discovering that she lied about her age.
The young woman now is free to seek an abortion on her own time and at her own expense, if she chooses; but the government and the taxpayers will not be forced to help facilitate it.
According to the report, she recently was moved from the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement to the custody of the Department of Homeland Security and then released.
Government lawyers filed a motion to dismiss an appeal of the teen’s case Tuesday after learning about the new circumstances, according to the report. The appeal was the government’s response to a federal judge who ruled in the ACLU’s favor Monday.
Originally, the case was believed to have been about two 17-year-old illegal immigrant minors who were staying in government shelters and wanted abortions. One is about 10 weeks pregnant, and the other is about 22 weeks pregnant.
The young woman who is 22-weeks pregnant appears to be the one who lied about her age.
Here’s more from Fox News:
The woman, identified in court papers by the pseudonym Jane Roe, was released on her own her own recognizance so that the abortion she sought to have would not be funded with taxpayer money.
According to the Times, when she was arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border, she falsely claimed to be 17 in order to be eligible for lenient treatment. She reportedly kept up the lie during the entire time she was in government custody.
When a government-provided doctor informed her last month that she was pregnant and in her second trimester, she demanded a facilitated abortion, the report said.
The ACLU lawsuit challenges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ new life-affirming policies, which provide information and support to encourage teens to choose life for their unborn babies and prohibit taxpayer-funded shelters from facilitating abortions.
The Administration for Children and Families, which oversees the shelters where the teens were staying, said Monday that the teens’ abortions are not medically necessary and therefore should not be supported by taxpayers.
“H.H.S.-funded facilities that provide temporary shelter and care for unaccompanied alien minors should not become way stations for these children to get taxpayer-facilitated abortions,” the office said.
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.”
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 after government lawyers said they provided misleading information about the date of Doe’s abortion.
News reports indicate the teen also needed mental health counseling after aborting her unborn child.
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.”