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Undocumented teen can get abortion asap, judge says in reversal of ruling

At 22 weeks pregnant, the undocumented teen only had days left to get an abortion.

by Carter Sherman
Dec 19 2017, 4:31pm

One of the pregnant, undocumented teenagers currently battling the Trump administration doesn’t need to wait to get her abortion, a judge ruled Tuesday morning.

The teen is 22 weeks pregnant, according to the administration, and likely has only days left to get the procedure.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled Monday that the Trump administration couldn’t block two pregnant, immigrant minors in federal custody from getting abortions. But the judge initially also refused to allow the teenagers, called Jane Poe and Jane Roe in court documents, to immediately get an abortion. Her ruling wouldn’t have taken effect for 24 hours, to give the Trump administration time to appeal the decision and continue the court battle, which could last for days, if not weeks.

But the judge lifted the 24-hour stay just a few hours after the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents both Poe and Roe, requested to end it on Tuesday.

While Roe is approximately 10 weeks into her pregnancy, the Trump administration says Poe is 22 weeks pregnant. While ACLU has refused to release either of the teens’ locations, several states put the cutoff for an abortion at “viability,” usually considered to be 24 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual cycle. Seventeen states put the cutoff even earlier.

That wouldn’t have left much time for Poe to undergo the procedure.

In court filings, Poe’s lawyers said they reached out to the Trump administration about their request to remove the stay but hadn’t heard back as of Tuesday morning. “It’s literally a matter of every day counts,” the judge had acknowledged, according to the ACLU’s request.

After the judge’s initial ruling on Monday, the Trump administration filed a notice of appeal later that night as well as a request to lengthen the stay for at least two weeks — but just in Roe’s case.

As minors who crossed into the United States alone and without authorization, both Roe and Poe are currently being held by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. While no one has apparently come forward to claim Poe, a sponsor has volunteered to take care of Roe.

If the Trump administration can hand Poe off to a sponsor, she’ll leave federal custody. And once she’s out of the government’s care, it no longer matters to the Trump administration whether she gets an abortion.

Lawyers for the government argue that the court just needs to give the government the time to properly vet Roe’s potential sponsor.

“The government has strong and constitutionally legitimate interests in promoting its interest in life, in refusing to facilitate abortion, and in not providing incentives for pregnant minors to illegally cross the border to obtain elective abortions while in federal custody,” lawyers for the Trump administration wrote. “Those interests would be irreparably undercut if Ms. Roe was granted the relief she seeks.”

Spokespeople for both the ACLU and the HHS’ Administration for Children and Families didn’t immediately respond to VICE News’ requests for comment.