A faith-based shelter in Texas is refusing to tell illegal immigrants that they have a right to abortion in the U.S., the government said Thursday, defying a court order that every single unaccompanied alien child still in government custody be informed.
The shelter wasn’t named in the court papers that announced the defiance.
It currently holds 74 illegal immigrant children and 13 of them are girls — though the shelter has assured the government none of them are pregnant.
That doesn’t matter to Judge Tanya Chutkan, the Obama appointee who has demanded every illegal immigrant, including non-pregnant girls and even boys, be told they have an unfettered right to an abortion in the U.S., which the government must facilitate.
The federal Health and Human Services Department alerted the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., of the issue as part of an appeal of Judge Chutkan’s broad abortion orders.
Government lawyers say the judge erred when she granted class-action status to all pregnant illegal immigrant girls in federal custody, then ordered all UAC be told about abortion options. Judge Chutkan also issued a gag order preventing the government from telling UACs’ parents or anyone else about their abortion either before or after they have it — unless they get the specific permission of the child first.
“This causes irreparable harm by forcing ORR to favor abortion over life,” the government told the appeals court in its briefs Thursday.
The government added it also violates the rights of shelters “who do not want to communicate a pro-abortion message to minors, especially to minors who are very young or uninterested in abortion.”
The unnamed shelter that has objected exposes a number of legal fissures about church and state relations that courts are already dealing with in other contexts.
The Supreme Court, for example, is grappling with a case that could decide whether a state can force tradesmen to provide services for same-sex weddings, even if they have a moral objection to same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, another case is already raging in California where the American Civil Liberties Union says immigrant shelters paid by the federal government and run by Catholic Charities refuse to dole out reproductive health care to UAC.
UAC who are caught at the border are quickly processed by Homeland Security then turned over the HHS, which is supposed to hold them while looking for a sponsor to place them with. HHS contracts with nonprofit dorms, or shelters, to hold the children while they await sponsors. During that time the government is considered to be acting in the stead of the UACs’ parents.
The government argues that federal law bans it from using taxpayer money to facilitate an abortion and UAC abortions trample on that.
• Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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