A teenage girl has found herself at the center of America’s two most heated debates: abortion and immigration.
Jane Doe is an undocumented immigrant from Central America. Her identity remains anonymous in order to protect her privacy as a minor. While she was detained at a shelter in southern Texas, a medical examination revealed the 17-year-old was pregnant. Although she didn’t seek government assistance and managed to obtain funds for the procedure, officials attempted to prevent the operation, sparking heated controversy between pro-life and pro-choice advocates. The Trump administration blocked her efforts in a month-long legal battle that prompted a lawsuit in a federal court.
The DC Court of Appeals voted in favor of Jane Doe on October 24, allowing her to undergo the procedure the following day.
While many applaud this ruling that supports the fundamental right to pursue personal health-care decisions, some believe that permitting the procedure will further entice illegal immigration to the United States in pursuit of abortions. “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,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.
Others see this as justice for women’s rights across the nation. “Justice prevailed today for Jane Doe,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Reproductive Freedom Project. “But make no mistake about it, the Administration’s efforts to interfere in women’s decisions won’t stop with Jane.”
Texas law requires parental consent for obtaining such treatment, leaving Jane Doe in custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, since she arrived to the US without a guardian. While being held under its supervision, she was required to seek counseling from a “religiously affiliated crisis pregnancy center,” where a group of doctors prayed over her. The girl received a pre-abortion consultation, where, as mandated by Texas state law, she was required to look at her sonogram.
Speaking exclusively to VICE News, the teenager said: “I decided to do it because I don’t feel capable of being a mature woman.” Despite a backlash from anti-abortion groups, the ACLU, which represented Jane Doe, helped to uphold her constitutional right to an abortion in the US.
*[This article was updated on October 30, 2017.]
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