The Trump administration and the ACLU argued in court Wednesday about whether the government should be forced to help facilitate abortions for illegal immigrant minors in its custody.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard arguments in the on-going, evolving case involving pregnant minors under the care of the U.S. Department of Health’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The Washington Times reports lawyers for the Department of Justice challenged the case as an overly-broad, pro-abortion class action lawsuit by the ACLU.
“This is an unprecedented expansion of abortion jurisprudence,” DOJ lawyer August Flentje told the judges Wednesday.
He said the case would force government employees and agencies to act “inconsistent with their profound respect for life,” according to BuzzFeed News.
However, ACLU lawyer Brigitte Amiri countered, “The defendants in this case basically stopped at nothing to prevent unaccompanied minors accessing abortion.”
The pro-abortion legal group and Trump administration have been battling over the matter since 2017 when the ACLU demanded that the agency help facilitate an abortion for an unaccompanied minor in Texas. “Jane Doe” aborted her 16-week unborn baby on Oct. 25, 2017, barely a day after a federal appeals court forced Trump administration officials to help facilitate the abortion. News reports indicate the teen needed mental health counseling after aborting her unborn child.
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Here’s more from the Times:
A lower court ruled against the Trump administration, certifying a class action for all pregnant illegal immigrant juveniles in government custody and ordering they be granted unfettered rights to abortion. …
The administration is asking the appeals court to cancel the judge’s class certification and to curtail her broad order applying to every illegal immigrant teen in ORR custody — including the vast majority the government said aren’t seeking abortions.
Some conservatives have warned that Judge Tanya Chutkan’s ruling turns the U.S. into an abortion “sanctuary,” giving illegal immigrant girls from places where abortion is illegal an incentive to attempt to illegally enter the U.S., knowing that the government will have to facilitate their decision.
The panel of judges pressed the government on the burden it is imposing on the illegal immigrant children by denying them speedy abortions.
Mr. Flentje countered that the children always have control over the situation.
“The government is not imposing a burden. The child can leave custody by going back,” he said.
Two of the judges on the panel brought up concerns that the class action lawsuit may be too broad because it mentions all pregnant teens, not just ones who want abortions, according to BuzzFeed. They also noted that the teens initially involved in the case no longer are seeking abortions in government custody.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement issued a new policy in 2017 requiring that taxpayer-funded shelters for immigrants and refugees offer life-affirming support to unaccompanied minors who are pregnant. The duties of the office include providing basic care, including health care, to unaccompanied immigrant children until they are placed with a family member or sponsor.
ORR Director Scott Lloyd said the shelters may not take “any action that facilitates” an abortion for unaccompanied minors without his direct approval, and “grantees should not be supporting abortion services … only pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling.”
Pro-life advocates said the ACLU’s case would create a right to abortion on demand for any woman or girl who steps on U.S. soil.