On Wednesday, a federal judge ordered the government to allow the pregnant teen to get an abortion after the Trump administration denied her access to one.
In a two-page decision, DC District Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered officials at the Department of Health and Human Services to allow the girl, identified only as Jane Doe, to be transported by a guardian or attorney "promptly and without delay" to an abortion provider to obtain state-mandated counseling and then to obtain the abortion.
The order also barred those officials from "interfering or obstructing" the girl's access, from forcing her to make her decision known to anyone and from "retaliating" against her and the facility where she is in regards to her decision.
However, the Court of Appeals issued a stay on the ruling Thursday to "give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion" filed by the government, the court ruled.
The teen can still receive the counseling that is required by Texas state law before a woman has an abortion, however, the latest ruling delays the actual procedure until the court has reviewed the case. The appeals court will hear oral arguments in the case Friday morning.
The ACLU, which is representing the girl, filed a lawsuit
late last week against the administration.
"This administration has no shame and no regard for a woman's health or decisions," said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "Weeks ago, our client decided to end her pregnancy. Her decision has been disregarded and she's now been dragged into a protracted legal battle over her ability to get the care she needs. The abuse of power is appalling."
According to the lawsuit, the unaccompanied 17-year-old is staying in a Texas shelter under the Office of Refugee Resettlement of HHS, which takes custody of undocumented immigrant minors that come to the US without any parents or guardians. She is not able to leave, except to leave the US entirely.
While the teen had judicial permission, in the place of parental consent, and the funds to the get the abortion, the ACLU said, officials refused to transport her for the procedure or allow anyone else to do so. The lawsuit also alleged the girl was forced to visit a "religious, anti-abortion" center and her mother was notified over her objections.
In a statement, the Administration for Children and Families at HHS said the ruling was "troubling," "exceeds the US Constitution and sets a dangerous precedent by opening our borders to any illegal children seeking taxpayer-supported, elective abortions."
HHS is considering its next steps, the statement said.
"We are disheartened the ruling rewards ideologically motivated lawsuits filed in multiple courts by the ACLU and abortion advocates," the statement said. "Though the order overrides the policies and procedures of the Office of Refugee Resettlement designed to protect children and their babies who have illegally crossed the border, we will continue to provide them with excellent health care and protect their well-being in all our facilities."