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'Jane Doe' Immigrant Has Abortion In Texas, After Battle With Trump Administration

A 17-year-old undocumented immigrant to the U.S. underwent an abortion procedure on Wednesday morning, after a weeks-long legal fight with the Trump administration, which had sought to block her from leaving the detention facility where she's being held in Texas. A federal appeals court ruled in her favor on Tuesday.

After a string of rulings and reversals in the case, the American Civil Liberties Union says that Jane Doe was finally able to get the treatment she had sought. She was referred to as Jane Doe to protect her privacy as a minor and a medical patient.

"People I don't even know are trying to make me change my mind," Doe said in a statement from the ACLU. "I made my decision and that is between me and God. Through all of this, I have never changed my mind."

Federal and state officials have said that because of the young woman's immigration status, she had no inherent right to an elective abortion in the U.S.

Responding to the news, Kristan Hawkins, president of the anti-abortion rights group Students for Life, called it "a tragedy" and said, "The U.S. should not become the abortion capitol of the world."

"It's the worst form of patriarchy to tell a young woman that without an abortion, she can't accomplish great things," Hawkins said, "and we hope that [the] Trump administration will continue to fight to protect the lives of all on U.S. soil."

Jane Doe had obtained a judge's permission to have an abortion without parental consent, as required by Texas law. A native of Central America, she entered the U.S. without a guardian and was being held in a detention center in Brownsville, Texas. She was in the official custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Describing the opposing legal positions, NPR's Sarah McCammon says, "Federal attorneys have argued that they're looking out for the young woman's 'best interest' and that the administration wants to 'promote childbirth and fetal life.'"

Sarah adds, "Attorneys for the girl note that she is not asking the federal government to pay for the abortion, only to allow her to leave the facility to obtain it."

The young woman's case became embroiled in debates over two of the hottest political issues in America: immigration and abortion rights.

"Justice prevailed today for Jane Doe," said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. She added, "With this case we have seen the astounding lengths this administration will go to block women from abortion care."

In court filings, Doe said that during the weeks that she was prevented from having an abortion, government agencies "forced me to obtain counseling from a religiously affiliated crisis pregnancy center where I was forced to look at the sonogram."

The young woman has now released a statement in which she fills in some of the details about her story. It reads, in part:

"My name is not Jane Doe, but I am a Jane Doe.

"I'm a 17 year old girl that came to this country to make a better life for myself. My journey wasn't easy, but I came here with hope in my heart to build a life I can be proud of. I dream about studying, becoming a nurse, and one day working with the elderly.

"When I was detained, I was placed in a shelter for children. It was there that I was told I was pregnant. I knew immediately what was best for me then, as I do now – that I'm not ready to be a parent."

Doe also thanked the ACLU, her lawyers, and those who have reached out to show their support.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.