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Federal Judge will not hear ACLU case to allow 17-year-old undocumented teen to have abortion

by | Oct 12, 2017

“Texas must not become a sanctuary state for abortions,” says state Attorney General

By Dave Andrusko

Federal District Judge Laurel Beeler

U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler Wednesday dismissed a request by the ACLU for a temporary restraining order to force HHS to either transport an undocumented pregnant 17-year-old teen to an abortion clinic or allow her to be taken there.

In a 13-page decision Judge Beeler ultimately concluded California was not the proper legal venue since the girl, who came unaccompanied from Central America, is currently in the state of Texas. The ACLU says she is 14 weeks pregnant.

The ACLU tried but failed to piggyback the case of “Jane Doe” to a current lawsuit it has against the federal government “for allegedly allowing some religiously affiliated shelters to impose their religion on minors by prohibiting their access to abortion,” the Texas Tribune reported.

According to Courthouse News

On Oct. 5, the ACLU asked to add new claims to its lawsuit, challenging a Trump administration policy issued in March that prevents shelters from taking any steps to facilitate immigrant minors’ access to abortion without approval from the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a subdivision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Not that the ACLU didn’t try to make the case that Doe’s claims were closely related to the original case. Brigitte Amiri, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, argued that the original case and the case of “Jane Doe” were both efforts to restrict unaccompanied immigrant minors’ access to abortion.

Amiri also told the Court “judicial efficiency weighed in favor of letting the ACLU add new claims and new class representatives to its case in the Northern District of California,” according to Nicholas Iovieno.

In some respects Beeler’s decision tracks arguments made in the amicus filed by seven state attorneys general. She agreed that the new claims “form a substantially different case that does not have common questions of law and fact” with the original claim, which alleged violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Beeler ends the Introduction to her opinion with this:

The court denies the motion for leave to file an amended complaint. The Doe plaintiff is not in this district. The wrongful acts for the new claims did not take place in this district. … The case is better brought as a new lawsuit.

The attorneys general amicus had shrewdly argued

The relief Plaintiffs seek—namely, an order granting Doe access to an abortion—is fundamentally different from the Establishment Clause dispute in the currently operative complaint. The proposed second amended complaint establishes no nexus at all between Doe and any religiously affiliated entity. It does not allege that Doe is housed at a religiously affiliated shelter. And it does not allege that any sectarian entity played any role in the denial of her request for an abortion. Rule 15 does not allow Plaintiffs to glue two unrelated lawsuits together. That is especially so because Doe already has initiated her own lawsuit in Texas, which is now pending before the U.S. District Court before the Southern District of Texas. Doe v. United State. … She thus has other opportunities to press her claim.

To be clear Judge Beeler was not sympathetic to the government’s case. In her ruling, Beeler said, “The government may not want to facilitate abortion,” adding, “But it cannot block it. It is doing that here.” But she concluded that the lawsuit needs to be filed elsewhere, presumably Texas.

As NRL News Today reported on Tuesday, in response Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s amicus defended “the federal government’s right to deny access to abortion services to an unlawfully-present minor alien in Texas,” according to a news release.

“If ‘Doe’ prevails in this case, the ruling will create a right to abortion for anyone on earth who enters the U.S. illegally. And with that right, countless others undoubtedly would follow,” Paxton said, adding that “Texas must not become a sanctuary state for abortions.”

Categories: Judicial