Minor Detained in the U.S. Denied Abortion


Staff Writer

“Jane Doe & women across this country should be able to access abortion without federal officials interfering,” the tagline for #justiceforjane, the Twitter hashtag relating to an undocumented 17-year- old from Central America who was trying to get an abortion in Texas but was detained instead, read.

Jane Doe, a minor in the United States without her parents, needed a waiver from the State Court to schedule the procedure. Although she had an appointment scheduled after receiving clearance, the Trump administration stepped in and blocked her from having the procedure.

Originally, the federal government pushed a motion that the D.C. Circuit Court issued an administrative stay. Although adults being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would have been given access to the procedure, the minor’s rights were blocked with the defense that undocumented immigrants do not have constitutional rights and therefore the Roe v. Wade determination that abortion is legal does not have to apply.

The Texas statute on abortion requires that, in addition to the many other restrictions put in place as an attempt to quell the otherwise legal procedure, an abortion must be performed within twenty weeks of conception. It was not until approximately the fifteenth week that Jane Doe was permitted to terminate.

Jane Doe was taken into custody when she was caught trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States. She was in an immigration

shelter and was not permitted to leave. Prior to the Trump Administration, minors held in these shelters were allowed to seek permission from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to get an abortion. Under this administration, however, the ORR enacted a new policy which stated that shelters could not do anything to help minors get abortions without the permission of E. Scott Lloyd, Trump’s appointment for the head of this department.

Similar to Doe’s case, these immigrant shelters cannot provide information, help with scheduling appointments or even provide transportation to these minors with regards to terminating pregnancy.

In Doe’s case, she already had an appointed guardian and attorney who had secured the money and were willing to provide transportation, but they were prevented from doing anything. The government would not grant her release from custody and would not provide the transportation themselves, claiming that these actions would be equivalent to facilitating abortion.


The government was not being asked to pay for the procedure or facilitate it in any way. However, the federal government still saw t to intervene in the case. Their defense for their actions was that she could agree to be deported to her home country (which doesn’t allow abortions) and that this therefore meant that she was not being held hostage.

On Oct. 24, the ACLU reported that the D.C. Court ordered the Trump Administration to stop blocking Jane Doe’s abortion. On Oct. 25, she had the procedure.

Although Jane Doe’s case spurred much controversy, petitions, and rallies, this was not a unique case.

“With this case, we have seen the astounding lengths this administration will go to block women from abortion care,” Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said.