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ACLU suit reveals abortion ban for unaccompanied girls in immigration custody

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit on behalf of Jane Doe on Friday in Washington, D.C., challenging a previously unknown abortion ban for pregnant girls who are in immigration custody in government-funded shelters. Under the Trump administration policy, government-funded shelters cannot release minors for abortion-related services without approval from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. Scott Lloyd, director of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, has said he will allow release only for "pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling."

The ACLU's initial lawsuit, filed in June 2016 in San Francisco, challenged the Obama administration's practice of placing young immigrants in shelters run by government-funded religious organizations. While U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said that the Office of Refugee Resettlement had "no justification" for its refusal to allow Jane Doe to receive an abortion, she also concluded that she did not have jurisdiction over the government's actions in another state, given the matter was not closely related to the ACLU's original lawsuit.

Jane Doe's lawyers claim that pregnant minors in government-funded shelters are funneled to religiously sponsored "crisis pregnancy centers" that discourage abortions and pressure minors to carry out unwanted pregnancies, thus violating girls' constitutional right to privacy "by wielding a veto power over their abortion decisions."

The Office of Refugee Resettlement released a statement Monday night claiming its "legal responsibility to decide what is in the best interests of a minor in the unaccompanied alien program and in this case, her unborn baby."