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By Melanie Arter, CNSNews, August 8, 2018
(CNSNews.com) – Nineteen attorneys general filed a friend-of-the court brief in a case challenging the federal policy of prohibiting unaccompanied minors from having abortions.
The amicus brief was led by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood and signed by the attorneys general of New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
In addition to the attorneys general, more than 40 medical, legal, and liberal groups – including Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America – signed onto the amicus brief.
They contend that unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors have a constitutional right to abortion.
The case at issue is Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar v. Rochelle Garza, “as guardian ad litem to unaccompanied minor JANE DOE, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, et al.”
“All women have a constitutionally-protected right to access safe and effective abortion services — including unaccompanied minors,” said Attorney General Underwood. “Many of these young women have fled horrific violence, and some are pregnant as the result of rape.
“The Trump administration simply does not have the authority to force their personal views on these young women by requiring them to carry pregnancies against their will. The federal policy is unconstitutional and inhumane, and we will continue to fight it,” Underwood said in a statement.
The Office for Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the agency responsible for the care and custody of unaccompanied minors, adopted a policy in March 2017 that requires the agency’s director, Scott Lloyd to personally review every minor’s abortion request. Lloyd rejected every request for abortion, including cases where illegal immigrant children were impregnated as the result of rape in her home country.
Lloyd has also prohibited all ORR-affiliated shelters from taking unaccompanied minors to doctors that provide abortions.
In October 2017, ORR blocked a minor known only as Jane Doe from getting an abortion, but she was able to obtain a temporary restraining order against ORR. The New York attorney general’s office led an amicus brief in support of that case. Since then, a federal district court granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting ORR from blocking abortions for two more unaccompanied minors.
In January 2018, a fourth unaccompanied minor sought a temporary restraining order and was released from federal custody within days of her court filing.
In their brief, the attorneys general contend that “Amici states have a strong interest in ensuring compliance with the laws that they have enacted to protect the interests of a minor who seeks to obtain an abortion without the involvement of her parents or legal guardians.”
“Although amici have reached different conclusions regarding how best to balance the State’s interest in the health and welfare of minors with the State’s duty to maintain access to abortion services for those minors, amici share an interest in ensuring that their considered judgments in this area receive the respect that the United States Constitution demands,” the brief stated.
“It is well established that policy determinations regarding family law, including determinations about the health and welfare of minors, are reserved to the States,” the brief added, citing Boggs v. Boggs.