In a ruling issued Monday, the Supreme Court vacated a lower court’s ruling that allowed an undocumented teenage girl to get an abortion while in federal custody.
On October 24, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the girl known only as Jane Doe in the Azar v. Garza case was allowed to get an abortion while she was being detained by federal officials — a ruling that could have had sweeping implications for U.S. immigration policy.
President Trump’s Department of Justice intended to appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court, but the girl’s attorneys, who are with the American Civil Liberties Union, rushed her to get an abortion at 4:15 a.m. the next morning before the government had the chance to file an appeal. In response, the DOJ asked SCOTUS to sanction her attorneys for misleading them about the timing of her abortion, which you can read about in full here. The ACLU remains defiant about its deceptive behavior.
The Trump administration's no-abortion policy is part of its larger attack on immigrants: separating children and parents; detaining and mistreating pregnant women; the Muslim ban. We are committed to fighting back on all fronts. #JusticeforJane
— ACLU (@ACLU) June 4, 2018
In an unsigned ruling, the Supreme Court determined that the case was moot because Jane Doe had already aborted her baby. It also vacated the lower court ruling that held this foreign citizen had a constitutional right to an abortion on U.S. soil. The Supreme Court did not sanction the ACLU attorneys whom the DOJ accused of misleading the government.
“Especially in fast-paced, emergency proceedings like those at issue here, it is critical that lawyers and courts alike be able to rely on one another’s representations,” the five-page-long ruling stated. “On the other hand, lawyers also have ethical obligations to their clients and not all communication breakdowns constitute misconduct.”
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly made clear that the federal government is not required to facilitate abortions for minors and may choose policies favoring life over abortion,” the DOJ said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to press the government’s interest in the sanctity of life.”
“Americans United for Life is pleased that today the Supreme Court vacated a dangerous precedent by the en banc D.C. Circuit Court in Azar v. Garza,” said Rachel Busick, staff counsel with Americans United for Life. “The lower court’s decision, which forced the Office of Refugee Resettlement to promote abortion as a matter of policy and to expend its resources to terminate unborn human lives in violation of Hyde Amendment principles, is no longer considered binding precedent in future cases.”