An immigrant teen held in federal custody in Texas on Wednesday had the abortion she had been seeking for a month, overcoming the Trump administration's objection.
The American Civil Liberties Union said on Twitter that the 17-year-old had the procedure early Wednesday. Susan Hays, legal director for the Texas group Jane's Due Process, confirmed to The Associated Press that the teen had the procedure.
The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit had cleared the way Tuesday for the procedure to take place. Wednesday's news came exactly a month after the teen obtained a state court order permitting her to have an abortion.
Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed disappointment about the abortion in a statement released Wednesday:
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“Today’s loss of innocent human life is tragic. And it may have been avoidable. The ruling that paved the way for the abortion violated long standing Supreme Court precedent on the rights of an unlawfully present person. Even the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice acknowledged that unlawfully present aliens without substantial connections to the country lack the same constitutional rights as citizens. This ruling not only cost a life, it could pave the way for anyone outside the United States to unlawfully enter and obtain an abortion. Life and the Constitution are sacred. We lost some of both today.”
The teen illegally entered the U.S. in September and learned she was pregnant while in federal custody in Texas. She obtained a state court order permitting an abortion. But federal officials had refused to transport her or temporarily release her so that others may take her for the procedure.
Lawyers for the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for sheltering children who illegally enter the country unaccompanied by a parent, said the department has a policy of "refusing to facilitate" abortions and that releasing the teenager would require arranging a transfer of custody and follow-up care.
The teenager's lawyers said all the government needed to do was "get out of the way." An attorney appointed to represent the teen's interests said she could transport her to and from appointments necessary for the procedure, and the federal government would not have to pay for it.