WASHINGTON — Under criticism from anti-choice activists for failing to file a timely appeal to the Supreme Court, the Trump administration has taken the extraordinary step of seeking to vacate a lower court ruling protecting reproductive rights.
After failing to file a timely appeal, the administration now seeks to blame the American Civil Liberties Union for the administration's failure to prevent a young unaccompanied immigrant minor from obtaining an abortion.
For a month, the Trump administration illegally barred the young woman, known to the court as Jane Doe, from obtaining an abortion. After weeks of litigation, on October 24, the ACLU obtained a court order requiring the government to refrain from further obstruction and to immediately permit her to obtain an abortion.
The courts found that Jane Doe had a constitutional right to obtain the abortion, and that the federal government's interference with her decision was unlawful. The government could have immediately sought a stay of the order, but did not do so. Based on that court order, on October 25, she was finally able to exercise her constitutional right to have an abortion.
Having failed to seek an immediate stay when it could have, the Trump administration is now trying to deflect blame by suggesting that the ACLU failed to inform the government that Doe was going to the clinic for her abortion on the morning of October 25. But the court order authorized an abortion, and government lawyers knew she could obtain an abortion immediately under the law. ACLU lawyers informed the government that Doe had an appointment at the clinic. They were under no obligation to delay her abortion further in order to give the government more time to file yet another round of litigation to further delay her abortion.
The following statement can be attributed to ACLU Legal Director David Cole.
"The Trump administration blocked Jane Doe from getting constitutionally protected care for a month and subjected her to illegal obstruction, coercion, and shaming as she waited. After the courts cleared the way for her to get her abortion, it was the ACLU's job as her lawyers to see that she wasn't delayed any further — not to give the government another chance to stand in her way.
"This administration has gone to astounding lengths to block this young woman from getting an abortion. Now, because they were unable to stop her, they are raising baseless questions about our conduct. Our lawyers acted in the best interest of our client and in full compliance with the court orders and federal and Texas law. That government lawyers failed to seek judicial review quickly enough is their fault, not ours.
"We won't let this distract us from the real issue here, which is that there are many more young women like Jane Doe out there who are still unable to get the care they need because of the Trump administration's unconstitutional policies. We will not stop fighting until we have justice for every young woman like Jane."
Jane Doe's treatment is not an isolated case, but rather part of a new policy by the Trump administration to block access to abortion care for young immigrants in detention. The ACLU's lawsuit against this policy is continuing.
More information about the case,Garza v. Hargan, is at https://www.aclu.org/cases/garza-v-hargan-challenge-trump-administrations-attempts-block-abortions-young-immigrant-women