An undocumented teenager at the center of a federal court case over her ability to get an abortion just underwent the procedure after weeks of legal arguments.
The news comes a day after the majority of active judges on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit overturned a ruling delaying the 17-year-old's sought after abortion.
In a statement, the teenager, still being held in a shelter for undocumented minors in South Texas said "No one should be shamed for making the right decision for themselves."
The most recent order was given after three appeals: Early last week, a district court judge ordered the Trump administration to allow the teenager, referred to as Jane Doe, to obtain an abortion. The administration appealed this order, and judges in the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, then ordered more delays for the teenager in an attempt to find a “sponsor” who would be able to make medical decisions for her. The American Civil Liberties Union, which had sued the government on the teenager’s behalf, then appealed this decision, and won.
Doe was taken into custody by a shelter for undocumented minors more than a month ago, after entering the United States illegally. She said she found out while in custody that she was pregnant. The shelter caring for her was okay with releasing her to get an abortion, but Trump administration officials would not give the shelter permission to do so. The American Civil Liberties Union soon caught wind of the teenager's situation and sued.
These delays brought the teenager’s pregnancy close to the 20 week legal limit for obtaining an abortion in Texas. When she finally obtained the abortion early Wednesday morning, she was more than 15 weeks pregnant.
“My journey wasn’t easy, but I came here with hope in my heart to build a life I can be proud of,” Doe said in the statement released Wednesday by the ACLU. “I dream about studying, becoming a nurse, and one day working with the elderly.”
“I’ve been waiting for more than a month since I made my decision,” she continued. “It has been very difficult to wait in the shelter for news that the judges in Washington, D.C. have given me permission to proceed with my decision. I am grateful for this, and I ask that the government accept it.”
“Justice prevailed today for Jane Doe. But make no mistake about it, the Administration's efforts to interfere in women's decisions won't stop with Jane,” said Brigitte Amiri, the senior staff attorney with the ACLU who argued her case in court.
“With this case we have seen the astounding lengths this administration will go to block women from abortion care. We will not stop fighting until we have justice for every woman like Jane.”
The ACLU also brought a class action case of “similarly situated” young women before the DC district court last week. Orders surrounding Doe’s case specifically were expedited due to the time constraints of her pregnancy, but the ruling over their lawsuit against the government over their treatment of other undocumented pregnant teenagers is still pending.
Even though Doe is no longer in need of an abortion, the court battles between the ACLU and the Trump administration could still continue.
Ema O'Connor is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Ema O'Connor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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