17th June 2021

Trump Administration Abandons Fight Over Abortion For Undocumented Teens

President Donald Trump’s administration has given up on its yearslong battle to stop or place burdens on undocumented teenagers in government custody seeking abortions.

The fight at the intersection of two issues Trump has taken an aggressive stance on ― immigration and reproductive rights ― came to a close Tuesday after the Trump administration announced it would no longer require the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to notify the guardian of a teen in the department’s custody that the teen was seeking an abortion.

BuzzFeed News was the first to report on the new guidance being issued. 

The American Civil Liberties Union first sued the Trump administration in 2017 when his ORR refused to grant minors access to the abortion altogether. Though the administration surrendered on that thrust of the issue last year, it continued to push for parental consent requirements until Tuesday.

Following the newly issued ORR rules, the ACLU alerted the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that it was dropping its case. 

“We’ve dismissed our case against ORR, but we’ll keep monitoring the situation to ensure this policy is properly applied,” the group tweeted. “While this change rights one of the wrongs committed against immigrants in detention, there’s still a fight ahead to defend reproductive freedom for all.”

The ORR, however, will still be required to comply with any state laws that mandate parental consent for an abortion.

The Justice Department has also agreed to pay more than $330,000 to the ACLU to cover its legal fees incurred during the three-year battle.

The ACLU’s lawsuit came to be after a 17-year-old girl who came to the U.S. alone in 2017 was placed in the custody of ORR. The office’s new director, Scott Lloyd, had denied every abortion request that came across his desk, even when the pregnancy resulted from rape.

The undocumented girl, known as Jane Doe, was able to get an abortion after she sued Trump’s administration in federal court. However, in 2019 the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for litigation over the issue to continue in lower courts, as it affects other detained minors.

Doe released a statement through the ACLU on Tuesday saying she was pleased to know other minors in her situation would be able to seek an abortion without undue burdens. 

 “After three years of waiting, I am so glad to know that what happened to me will never happen to anyone else,” she said. “The decision to have an abortion is personal and belongs to each individual — no one should be shamed for making the right decision for themselves or blocked from doing so. I came to this country to make a better life for myself, and I am working on a building a life that I can be proud of. I am happy to know that my fight means that other young women like me will be able to make the decision about whether to become a parent for themselves.”

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