Abortion has been legal in the United States since the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade in 1973. Yet according to recent reports, the federal Department of Health and Human Services has been preventing undocumented women and teenagers from terminating their pregnancies, even in cases of rape and incest.
One case in particular has found its way into the spotlight, thanks to the ACLU. A pregnant teenager housed in a shelter for undocumented people and refugees in Brownsville, TX has been blocked from receiving an abortion by officials from the Department of Health and Human Services.
According to Texas state law, women under 18 can’t have an abortion without either parental consent or permission from a judge. The young woman in question has complied with this law, yet is still being blocked from exiting the shelter by government officials who have no right to do so.
Undocumented women in the U.S. are one of the groups most vulnerable to sexual harassment and abuse. Sources have estimated that between 60 and 80 percent of undocumented women and teenagers on their way to the U.S. experience rape. Due to these circumstances, it’s imperative that these women have access to the same healthcare legally guaranteed to every other woman in the U.S.
Despite the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade, the Department of Health and Human Services has published literature asserting a “pro-life” stance. How ironic that a government agency charged with protecting the health of its constituents is actively denying reproductive healthcare to one of the most vulnerable populations of women in the U.S.