Several months after an underaged illegal immigrant received an abortion while detained by federal authorities in Texas, the United States Supreme Court has thrown out the ruling that allowed the abortion to happen.
In October 2017, the 17-year-old identified as Jane Doe in court filings requested the federal government facilitate her abortion while in custody in Brownsville. However, Texas state law requires a minor’s parents be informed and give permission before their daughter is able to have an abortion. Furthermore, the Trump administration argued that they are not required to facilitate an abortion for a minor, and that if she wished to do so, she would need to return to her home country.
After weeks of legal battle between the Trump administration and the ACLU, who represented the pregnant teen, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of Doe, allowing her to have the abortion on October 25, 2017.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who back in October had led an 11-state coalition that filed an amicus brief in support of the federal government’s decision to vacate the lower court’s ruling, released a statement earlier this week: “The Supreme Court made the right decision to vacate the D.C. Circuit’s ruling creating a right to abortion for anyone who enters the U.S. illegally,” he said. “The previous ruling not only cost a life, but could have paved the way for extending American citizens’ rights to all unlawfully-present aliens with no substantial connection to this country. Texas will not become a sanctuary state for abortions, and will continue the fight to protect and promote fetal life.”
In doing so, the Supreme Court could have potentially helped avoid future scenarios in which this specific case would have served as precedence, allowing illegal immigrants the ability to obtain abortions while in federal custody. However, according to the Supreme Court, the decision was made on the grounds that the abortion had already happened, and thus the case itself was no longer relevant. As a result of the decision, federal courts in the future would still have the power to allow illegal immigrants to receive abortions while they were detained.
It remains to be seen if the State of Texas and the Trump administration, given the ambiguity of the United States Supreme Court’s decision, will face a similar legal challenge again in the future.