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Court of Appeals overrules Trump administration, says illegal immigrant minors can get abortions


If this case goes to the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh may end up recusing himself, leaving the court tied

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., on Friday ruled against the Trump administration and in favor of unaccompanied illegal immigrants who want to obtain abortions.

What's the story here?

In March 2017, the Office of Refugee Resettlement mandated that all illegal immigrant shelters were "prohibited from taking any action that facilitates an abortion without direction and approval from the Director."

The following September, a 17-year-old unaccompanied illegal immigrant girl identified only as "Jane Doe" wanted to get an abortion. She ended up getting her abortion, but her case pushed the question into the national spotlight. Three other immigrant girls, known only by the monickers "Jane Poe," "Jane Roe," and "Jane Moe," soon followed with lawsuits of their own against the Trump administration.

In March 2018, a judge issued an injunction preventing immigration authorities from keeping Doe, or any unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors, from receiving abortions.

Last June, the Supreme Court ruled that the case initially filed by Jane Doe had become irrelevant since she had already had an abortion. Because of this, the high court did not rule on the underlying question of whether or not other illegal immigrant minors should be allowed to get abortions, but it did allow the suits to continue making their way through the lower courts, Reuters reported, in order to determine the outcome for other immigrants who were in similar situations.

On Friday, a panel of three judges on the D.C. Circuit Court unanimously upheld a lower court decision by ruling that the federal government did not have a right to prevent unaccompanied minors from getting abortions.

According to Reuters, roughly 50,000 unaccompanied minors illegally entered the country and were moved to detention centers by U.S. immigration officials in 2018. In 2017, 18 unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors requested abortions.

This case could potentially be returned to the Supreme Court. If it does, Brett Kavanaugh would almost certainly end up recusing himself since he served on the D.C. Circuit Court and was part of an earlier ruling the court had made on this case.

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