Immigrant Minors in Government Shelters Aren’t Getting the Abortion Access They Need

Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Jane Doe, an unaccompanied immigrant minor living in a government-funded Texas shelter, tried to access abortion care and was sent to a crisis pregnancy center instead by the federal court. The ACLU announced today that they’re fighting on her behalf in an emergency hearing, after last Thursday the federal government tried to stop her from receiving the medical assistance she needed.

Government-funded shelters are legally required to provide minors with access to the full range of medical care, but Texas law requires parental consent or a judicial waiver for minors seeking abortions, which makes it more difficult for young immigrant women in the U.S. without family to receive them.

The federal court shut down Doe’s waiver request even though she had help from an attorney and appointed guardian. After blocking Doe, they sent her to a crisis pregnancy center, where she was forced to receive a sonogram from a non-professional and counseling aimed at convincing her to continue the pregnancy.

Doe’s experience in Texas was not an isolated incident. The ACLU added her case to an existing federal lawsuit filed in 2016 targeting crisis pregnancy centers.

“And this case isn’t the only one — nationally, the federal government is obstructing young immigrant women’s access to abortion. It’s blatantly unconstitutional, not to mention unconscionable,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

Legislation that delays abortion is cropping up all over the country. Today, Planned Parenthood also announced they’ll join the ACLU in Missouri to block Senate Bill 5, a law recently passed during a special session that severely restricts access to safe, legal abortion.

Trump Threatens Abortion Access for Texas Immigrant Minors