The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday stayed an order by a federal judge saying that the Trump administration must allow a teen who is in the U.S. illegally and under the custody of the U.S. government to have an abortion this week.
"The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion for stay and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion," the court said in asking for additional documents to be filed later in the day.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Wednesday ordered the federal government to transport the girl to an an abortion facility by Friday or Saturday or allow a guardian to do so "promptly and without delay."
The order Chutkan issued for the girl to receive counseling for her abortion on Thursday remains in effect under the D.C. Circuit decision. The counseling is required under Texas law, where the girl, 17, is being detained after coming to the U.S. illegally from Mexico.
Federal health officials had taken the girl to a crisis pregnancy center to receive counseling but haven't allowed her to obtain an abortion, triggering a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The girl is 15 weeks pregnant, and most abortions in Texas are banned after 20 weeks. The teen followed state law by obtaining permission from a state judge in Texas to have an abortion and said she would pay for the procedure or would do so with help from her court-appointed guardian.
Lawyers for the Justice Department told Chutkan, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, that the girl was not allowed to have an abortion unless it was a medical emergency, saying that because she was in the U.S. illegally she was not entitled to the same access to abortion as legal residents.