Federal Appeals Court Rules Trump Administration Cannot Block Abortions for Immigrant Teens in Custody

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the administration’s policy of blocking abortion services served as an “across-the board ban” on access to the procedure.

The result of the court’s 2-1 opinion is that the government will not be able to stand in the way of migrant teens in custody who would seek to end their pregnancies.

Initially brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the case centered on a 17-year-old girl from Central America held in a government-funded shelter in Texas. She had been denied access based on the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s policy of refusing to “facilitate” abortions for teens in its custody who had crossed the border illegally.

The court noted that the director of the office had to review abortion requests and had never approved one. This included pregnancies resulting from rape and an instance where a teen found private funding and transportation for the abortion.

“That is not a refusal to fund an abortion; it is a refusal to allow it,” the court said in an unsigned opinion joined by Judges Sri Srinivasan and Robert L. Wilkins.

Additional Resources

Trump administration cannot block abortions for immigrant teens in custody, court rules, Washington Post, June 14, 2019

J.D. v. Azar, No. 18-5093 (D.C. Cir. 2019)

Image credit: Shutterstock.com / Dima Sidelnikov