The U.S. government is forcing an undocumented teen to stay pregnant

UPDATED Oct. 19, 1:30 p.m. ET

A day after a district judge ruled that an undocumented teen in a South Texas detention center had a legal right to an abortion, the D.C. District Court of Appeals has granted a Justice Department appeal to halt the ruling and delay her from getting it.

This means the Central American 17-year-old known as “Jane Doe” in court documents may not be able to get her abortion Friday — or at all. Thanks to a Texas law requiring women to undergo counseling 24 hours before their abortion, Doe must receive counseling Thursday if she wants to have an abortion in a nearby clinic Friday.


The Court of Appeals’ order is meant to give the judges time to fully consider the evidence before them; it’s not a comment on the validity of Doe or the government’s arguments. It will still allow Doe to receive counseling on her abortion, which Texas mandates that all women receive at least 24 hours before getting the procedure.

“Weeks ago, our client decided to end her pregnancy. Her decision has been disregarded and she’s now been dragged into a protracted legal battle over her ability to get the care she needs,” Brigitte Amiri, an attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project who is representing Doe in court in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. “The abuse of power is appalling.”

The teenager entered the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement in September, and has been seeking an abortion ever since. Texas granted her request for an abortion without telling her parents, but federal officials have kept her from getting that abortion.

In addition to forcing Doe to go to a crisis pregnancy center, a religious group that tries to stop women from getting abortions, officials also told her mother that Doe was pregnant, court documents allege.

A hearing is set to take place in Washington at 10 a.m. ET Friday. Of the three judges currently assigned to the hearing, two have been appointed by Republican presidents and one by a Democrat.