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Immigrant Detained Abortion

The US government is blocking an undocumented teen from abortion access


Updated October 25, 2017 02:58 PM EDT

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of a Jane Doe. The 17-year-old underwent an abortion procedure Wednesday morning.

Updated October 24, 2017 03:14 PM EDT

US appeals court in DC ruled the migrant teen being held in federal custody in Texas can access an abortion.

A 17-year-old undocumented migrant is being prevented from accessing abortion care, and remains in custody in Texas.

After escaping an abusive home in Central America where her sister was beaten by her parents for being pregnant, "Jane Doe" is facing a different kind of punishment in the country where she sought refuge.

Immigrant Detained Abortion
Activists with Planned Parenthood demonstrate in support of a pregnant 17-year-old being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children, outside of the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled to allow the pregnant teen access to an abortion. But on Thursday, the US Court of Appeals issued a stay against that ruling, meaning the teen may be forced to carry her pregnancy to term.

Jane Doe has until Oct. 31 to secure a sponsor, allowing her to be released from the custody of Health and Human Services (HHS). Two candidates have already been rejected as acceptable sponsors.

On the deadline of Oct. 31, she will be about 18 weeks pregnant. Abortion is illegal in Texas after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Texas law also requires parental consent for minors seeking abortion care. A state court judge in Texas had already granted her legal permission to bypass this law and proceed with an abortion without her parents' consent. But the federal government's administrative stay means she is no longer able to move forward with the procedure.

The undocumented minor will remain in a Texas shelter under the Office of Refugee Resettlement of HHS, and she cannot leave unless she agrees to return to her country of origin, where abortion is illegal. An undocumented adult would have been able to access an abortion while in detention, but a minor cannot because she can instead consent to this "voluntary departure" under immigration law.

Even if she were to elect this option, she would have to stay in custody until she is deported.

The ACLU, which is representing the teen, says the government is "essentially holding her hostage."

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