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Appeals court OKs abortion for undocumented teen

By Danielle Haynes
Appeals court OKs abortion for undocumented teen
A federal appeals court said an undocumented teen does not need to have a sponsor in order to obtain an abortion. Photo by sebra/Shutterstock

Oct. 24 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court on Tuesday said an undocumented, unaccompanied 17-year-old girl may get an abortion, overturning its own previous ruling last week.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday said the girl, identified only by the initials J.D., must get an adult sponsor by Oct. 31 to take custody of her and facilitate her abortion.

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Lawyers for the girl on Sunday asked the three-judge panel to remove the sponsor requirement because they've been unable to find one for her. The lawyers said the teen, who is close to 16 weeks pregnant, was getting close to the 20-week cutoff for abortions in Texas, where she is staying at an undisclosed shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children.

The panel consented.

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The Office of Refugee Resettlement has prevented the girl from getting an abortion. The Trump administration says it has no obligation to facilitate an abortion for the teen because the U.S. government promotes "child birth and fetal life."

Circuit Judge Patricia Millett, consenting with the panel's opinion, said it was "constitutionally untenable" to expect J.D. to be able to remove herself from custody and seek an abortion in the United States on her own.

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"Where the government bulldozed over constitutional lines was its position that -- accepting J.D.'s constitutional right and accepting her full compliance with Texas law -- J.D., an unaccompanied child, has the burden of extracting herself from custody if she wants to exercise her right to an abortion that the government does not dispute she has," she wrote.

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Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union are representing the girl.

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