The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on behalf of two illegal immigrant teenagers who are seeking to obtain an abortion in the U.S. while in federal custody.
The two teenagers, both aged 17, are 10 weeks and 22 weeks pregnant, according to ACLU lawyers representing them in the court case.
The ACLU lawyers are taking issue with a new policy of denying abortion access for minors in federal custody. They contended that the rule is unconstitutional because it strips the teenagers of their rights to make an independent decision about becoming a parent.
"We've already stopped the Trump administration from blocking one young woman's abortion," senior ACLU staff attorney Brigitte Amiri said in a statement, according to The Stream.
"It's unreal that the federal government is trying to force more young women to continue their pregnancies against their will," she continued.
Government lawyers have argued that the young women, referred to as Jane Roe and Jane Poe in court documents, may not be mature enough to make the decision to abort their babies. They further stated that if the judge allows the teens to obtain abortions, their "interests would be irreparably undercut."
The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families has reportedly stated that the Roe and Poe could either leave the country or "find a suitable sponsor."
"If they choose not to exercise these options, HHS does not believe we are required to facilitate the abortion," the government lawyers said in a statement.
The case is being presided by Tanya Chutkan, who had previously ruled in favor of another illegal immigrant minor who wanted to get an abortion.
In that case, the 17-year-old Mexican girl, identified in court documents as Jane Doe, was able to terminate her pregnancy in late October. However, government attorneys petitioned the Supreme Court to vacate Chutkan's decision and reprimand ACLU attorneys, alleging that the ACLU misled them about the schedule of Doe's abortion.
The ACLU is also pursuing litigation in another case in an attempt to overturn the Trump administration's policy.
A lawyer from the ACLU had reportedly complained that under the policy, underage pregnant girls are taken to crisis pregnancy centers and offered religious counseling in an attempt to convince them not to abort their babies.
Court documents revealed that there had been 420 pregnant women in custody during the 2017 fiscal year.
In mid-October, the HHS reported that it cared for 43 pregnant illegal immigrant girls. Jonathan White, the department's director for children's programs, noted that 18 of the minors requested an abortion. He reported that 11 of the girls obtained the procedure and five changed their minds. Two girls had left government custody before they were able to make a final decision.