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Trump Officials Appeal Class Action Ruling in Fight for Abortion Access for Undocumented Immigrant Minors

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The appeal was expected after a federal district court ruled the administration could not "nullify" the abortion rights of minors in its custody.

Attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday appealed a lower court ruling ordering the Trump administration stop blocking abortion access for undocumented, unaccompanied pregnant minors in its custody. 

The appeal came in Garza v. Hargan, a lawsuit brought by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of pregnant undocumented minors in federal custody who attorneys claim had their requests for abortion care thwarted by members of the Trump administration. 

In late March, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that the administration’s policy of requiring Scott Lloyd, the virulently anti-choice director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), to personally sign off on any action that “facilitates” an abortion was an attempt to “nullify” a minor’s right to an abortion. “ORR’s policy vests the power to decide the future of [an undocumented minor]’s pregnancy in one man: Director Lloyd,” Chukan wrote.

Chutkan ordered the administration stop “interfering with or obstructing” any undocumented pregnant minor in its custody from accessing a judicial bypass; medical appointments related to pregnancy dating; objective and unbiased pregnancy counseling; abortions; and other pregnancy-related care. Chutkan also ordered the administration to stop forcing minors in its custody to reveal either the fact of their pregnancy or their abortion decision to anyone, and to stop revealing those facts itself.

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Judge Chutkan also certified the Garza v. Hargan litigation as a class action. That means her ruling blocking the administration’s policy and ordering officials to stop thwarting abortion access applies to every undocumented minor in federal custody who seeks an abortion, and not on a case-by-case basis. 

The appeal follows a request by the administration to stay the March decision while the appeal continues. The court has not yet ruled on that request. 

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