Immigrant teenager at center of U.S. legal fight has abortion

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The 17-year-old illegal immigrant at the center of a high-profile legal fight over abortion underwent the procedure on Wednesday, a day after a U.S. appeals court overruled the Trump administration’s objections, her lawyers said.

“I made my decision and that is between me and God. Through all of this, I have never changed my mind,” the girl, held in federal custody in Texas, said in a statement issued by her lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on Tuesday that the girl, whose name and nationality have not been disclosed but was referred to as “Jane Doe” in court papers, could have an abortion immediately, rejecting the administration’s opposition.

“Justice prevailed today for Jane Doe. But make no mistake about it, the administration’s efforts to interfere in women’s decisions won’t stop with Jane,” said ACLU lawyer Brigitte Amiri.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who backed the administration in the case, said it is well established that illegal immigrants do not have the same constitutional rights as U.S. citizens.

“Life and the Constitution are sacred. We lost some of both today,” Paxton said.

By quickly having the abortion, the girl prevented the administration from potentially continuing the legal fight at the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court. She was about 15 weeks pregnant.

A Justice Department spokesman had no immediate comment.

The case involves the intersection of two divisive social issues on which President Donald Trump has taken a hard line: abortion and immigration. Among the issues the dispute raises is whether illegal immigrant women have the same rights to an abortion as U.S. residents.

The girl entered the United States without any family in September and was immediately detained by U.S. authorities and placed in a shelter in Texas for unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors.

She had sought and received a Texas court order to approve the abortion because she is under 18, and had scheduled a sonogram and consultation with a physician, as required by Texas law. But the Trump administration had refused to let her leave the detention center to carry out those steps.

The administration said in legal papers that while the girl was in federal custody, she was subject to its policy of refusing to facilitate abortions.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham