US Appeals court delays abortion for undocumented, unaccompanied minor under federal custody

The 17-year-old, detained in Texas, is 15 weeks pregnant.

— -- A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked an undocumented, unaccompanied minor -- who is under U.S. custody -- from obtaining the abortion she is seeking.

If a sponsor is not found and the teen is not released by that time, the lower court may re-enter its ruling, which had ordered the government to allow the teen to move forward with the abortion.

The minor, who is being held in an HHS-contracted facility in Texas, is 15 weeks pregnant. Texas bans abortions after 20 weeks.

Her attorney made it clear today that delays could cause further delays because of the limited access to abortion doctors in Texas and specific laws governing abortions in the state. Her attorney also pointed out that she has been in custody for weeks and the department hasn’t yet found a suitable sponsor.

Amiri, who argued on behalf of the teen in court today, said the ACLU is "investigating all avenues to get justice for her."

A three-judge circuit court panel heard oral arguments in the case, Garza v. Hargan, this morning in Washington, D.C.

The Trump administration argued today that it was "refusing to facilitate" an abortion for an unaccompanied minor, who entered the country unlawfully and is currently under federal custody.

“For however much time we are given, the Office of Refugee Resettlement and HHS will protect the well-being of this minor and all children and their babies in our facilities, and we will defend human dignity for all in our care,” the Administration for Children and Families at HHS said in a statement.

A few weeks ago, the teen received a state judicial order, as is required in Texas without parental consent, allowing her to proceed with the abortion, but so far the Trump administration has blocked her efforts.

The teen is under HHS supervision, as is the policy for minors entering the United States illegally without a parent, at a detention facility in Texas. The department has been led by acting Secretary Eric Hargan since Trump-appointed HHS Secretary Tom Price resigned at the end of September after it was revealed that he had repeatedly chartered private planes for government travel.

Attorneys for the administration argued that the restrictions don't place an "undue burden" on the teen, because she can either leave the detention facility by either self-deporting or obtaining a sponsor inside the United States.

The identity of the minor, who is referred to as Jane Doe (J.D.), her country of origin and other details are under court seal to protect her privacy.

But the government lawyer did reveal that abortion is illegal in the teen's home country.

The government didn't deny that Jane Doe has a constitutional right to choose to terminate a pregnancy; it just argued that it’s not required to facilitate it, according to ABC News Supreme Court contributor Kate Shaw.

But the ACLU argued that the government isn't only refusing to facilitate, but blocking her from exercising that right, Shaw said.

“The government is violating well-established Supreme Court president” by refusing to transport her to have an abortion or to allow anyone else to transport the minor for an abortion, Amiri, arguing on behalf of the teen, said in court today.

The teen was also forced to visit a religious, anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center, and, over the minor' objections, told her mother about the pregnancy, according to the complaint.

Since the unaccompanied minor was granted judicial bypass to allow for the abortion in Texas, she was also appointed a guardian, Rochelle Garza, who is willing to accompany the teen to her appointment. Indeed, Garza and another attorney went with the minor to an abortion counseling session Thursday.

Texas law requires that counseling be done within 24 hours of an abortion by the same doctor who will perform the procedure, complicating the timeframe for the abortion and court ruling, Amiri said.

She has already been pushed form the first trimester to her second, because of the delays, according to her attorney.

ABC News’ Mabel Kabani contributed to this story.