Three federal judges will decide whether an undocumented pregnant teen can get an abortion by this weekend, as the Trump Administration fights a lower court decision to allow it.
The teen, referred to only as Jane Doe in court documents, is still free to undergo pre-abortion counseling on Oct. 19, which is required under Texas law. A District Court in Washington will hear oral arguments on the case on Friday, Oct. 20.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued on behalf of the teen, the 17-year-old has been kept from getting an abortion while being held in a Texas shelter for unaccompanied youth.
The ACLU says 17-year-old young woman had to obtain a judicial waiver to undergo the procedure because under Texas law, she would have needed parental consent to get an abortion. Instead of taking her to a clinic to get the procedure, the complaint says the federal government forced her instead to go to a religious crisis pregnancy center; such centers have pro-life leanings and seek to prevent women from getting abortions.
On Wednesday, a federal court ruled that the government could not keep the teen, who the Washington Post reports is 15 weeks pregnant, from getting the abortion. The ACLU and other reproductive rights groups cheered that decision, but the Department of Justice is now seeking an emergency stay to block her from undergoing the procedure.
Prolonging the procedure could pose a risk to teen, one of her lawyers told Vice News. “Every day you’re subjecting her to a longer, more involved procedure,” Susan Hays said. “If the government had respected her civil rights, she could’ve taken two pills and [be] done. And instead, there’s this.”
In a statement, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which has long drawn the ire of conservatives for providing women access to birth control and abortion, accused the Trump Administration of “playing politics with women’s lives.”
“It is outrageous that the highest law enforcement entity in the country, the Department of Justice, would refuse to acknowledge the substantial obstacle that it is placing on this young woman’s ability to access abortion,” Cecile Richards said. “In pursuit of its own political and ideological agenda, the Trump Administration is putting women’s health and lives at risk.”