Under the policy, introduced in 2017, shelters holding immigrant teens in government custody were not allowed to give children access to abortions. The policy was blocked by a judge in 2018; the judge said the government could not deny minors the right to make reproductive decisions, a ruling that was again upheld on Friday by a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
The court’s decision upholds the Supreme Court’s right to an abortion granted by Roe v. Wade.
“We are unanimous in rejecting the government’s position that its denial of abortion access can be squared with Supreme Court precedent,” the panel opinion says.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the case against the administration and represents several pregnant minors seeking abortions, responded to the court’s decision in a statement on Twitter.
“The Trump administration’s cruel policy of blocking immigrant women from accessing abortion in federal custody was a blatant abuse of power. We’re relieved that today’s ruling continues to prevent the policy from taking effect while the case proceeds as a class action,” the ACLU tweeted.
Laurence Silberman, one of the judges on the panel who was appointed to the bench by former President Ronald Reagan, wrote a dissent saying that he did not support a class-action lawsuit by the ACLU. He also argued that officials should have a limited window to transfer a minor out of government custody to the care of a sponsor, where the child could then obtain an abortion without the government’s assistance.
The administration has two options to appeal the decision; asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to hear the case or taking its challenge to the Supreme Court.
“We will continue fighting to make sure that the Trump administration is permanently blocked from obstructing young immigrant minors’ access to crucial health care and the constitutional right to abortion,” the ACLU said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.