Judge won’t or­der of­fi­cials to al­low abor­tion for il­le­gal

Manteca Bulletin - - Local/State -

SAN FRAN­CISCO (AP) — A fed­eral judge in San Fran­cisco said Wednesday that the gov­ern­ment can­not pre­vent a preg­nant 17-year-old at a Texas fa­cil­ity for un­ac­com­pa­nied im­mi­grant chil­dren from get­ting an abor­tion, but de­clined to is­sue an or­der that would bar fed­eral of­fi­cials from in­ter­fer­ing in the girl’s ac­cess to the pro­ce­dure.

U.S. Mag­is­trate Judge Lau­rel Beeler said the le­gal chal­lenge on be­half of the girl by the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia was not filed in the right court.

The rul­ing al­lows the girl’s at­tor­neys to file a new law­suit seek­ing the same or­der in an­other fed­eral court dis­trict. A lawyer for the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice, Peter Phipps, said at a hear­ing Wednesday that the gov­ern­ment might pro­pose hav­ing Jane Doe’s case heard in Texas or Washington, D.C.

Brigitte Amiri, a se­nior staff at­tor­ney with the ACLU, said the group hadn’t de­cided its next step, but would con­tinue to fight for the girl’s right to an abor­tion.

“A first-year law stu­dent un­der­stands that it is un­con­sti­tu­tional for the gov­ern­ment to ban abor­tion,” she said. “The le­gal claim is pretty straight­for­ward.”

The ACLU says the U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices is re­fus­ing to let the girl be taken for an abor­tion. The girl may be up to 14 weeks’ preg­nant, Rochelle Garza, a lawyer ap­pointed to rep­re­sent the girl’s le­gal in­ter­ests, told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Tues­day. Texas law pro­hibits most abor­tions after 20 weeks.

In her rul­ing, Beeler said there was “no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion” for re­strict­ing the girl’s ac­cess to an abor­tion.

“The gov­ern­ment may not want to fa­cil­i­tate abor­tion,” Beeler wrote. “But it can­not block it. It is do­ing that here.”

Beeler, how­ever, said the girl’s le­gal chal­lenge be­longed in a new law­suit, not­ing that the girl — iden­ti­fied only as Jane Doe — was in Texas, not in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. The ACLU had sought to amend an ex­ist­ing law­suit pend­ing be­fore Beeler to in­clude Jane Doe’s case.

U.S. lawyers rep­re­sent­ing HHS ar­gued against that, say­ing the original law­suit claimed the agency was vi­o­lat­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion by al­low­ing re­li­gious groups to refuse ac­cess to abor­tion. In this case, gov­ern­ment lawyers said the 17-year-old was not be­ing held in a fa­cil­ity with a re­li­gious af­fil­i­a­tion.

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