On September 11, 2017 a 17-year-old adolescent was detained at the US-Mexican border and denied the abortion that she was seeking. The current administration has made it particularly difficult for undocumented immigrants to receive abortions. In Texas, where the shelter that this young woman dubbed “Jane Doe” is staying is, minors need parental permission to receive an abortion.

This law meant that Jane Doe had to go to court with an attorney and appointed guardian to fight to have the right to have her abortion. While the judge granted her authority to receive the abortion, the government then came in and appealed it, forcing Jane Doe to go to a “crisis pregnancy center.” At this location she received counseling to continue the pregnancy and had an ultrasound performed by non-medical personnel. This series of events was a blatant violation of human rights and completely unethical.


The ACLU continues to fight for women’s rights. They have asked the court to declare the current administration’s policy unconstitutional. Jane Doe was hardly the first case where an unaccompanied minor has been denied access to abortion by the hands of the federal government. The ACLU reports that at one point the government tried to prevent a woman from having an abortion by sending her to the emergency department after she took the abortion pill.

What has happened to our Jane Doe now?

On October 25th Jane Doe received the abortion she had been fighting for.  The appeals court issued and order that stopped the Trump Administration from preventing her from accessing abortion services. Jane Doe told a little about herself in a recent statement. She describes how when she was placed in the shelter for children they informed her that she was pregnant. Upon hearing this news she immediately knew that this was not right for her as she is not ready to be a parent. Jane Doe spoke of her dreams of coming to this country and eventually becoming a nurse and working with the elderly. She also said that while she was nervous about appearing in court, she was treated kindly and is grateful for the judge’s decision. She ended her statement by saying, “This is my life, my decision. I want a better future. I want justice.” Thanks to the recent court rulings, this young woman can reach her goals and change the lives of others by becoming a nurse.

What now?

As most of us know this is just a step in the right direction for one person. The Trump Administration and Pro-life groups are hardly finished trying to limit safe access to abortion services. Over the past few days an anti-abortion group has asked the California supreme court to hear their challenge to the requirement that “crisis pregnancy centers” also provide information to women about affordable state contraception funding and pregnancy termination services. Part of providing patients with comprehensive individualized care involves being aware of what is happening in the political arena. Knowing what bills are being submitted and what barriers we have to providing care will enable us to counsel our patients in the most effective way.

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