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Abortion Worries Heightened for Unauthorized Immigrants in the U.S | World News

(Reuters) – Calls from Texas last week began flooding a national abortion aid hotline with Spanish-language operators: a woman was afraid to fly to New Mexico because of her immigration status. Another woman said she had to keep her pregnancy because she feared she would be deported if she crossed the state line. A third is concerned that immigration authorities will detain him if he uses public transport to travel.

Penelope Dialberto, Texas regional case manager for the National Abortion Federation, said the three women had a large number of calls to their hotline on Friday and Saturday after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Rowe v. Wade ruling. Women’s constitutional right to abortion is recognized.

While the ruling raises concerns among many women, women in uncertain immigration status are facing additional hurdles and are shaking up to determine what will happen next, from abortion providers to U.S. government agencies.

Thirteen states have passed laws aimed at radically rebuilding abortion access across the country, following a Supreme Court ruling that imposed a full or partial ban on abortion.

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The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has pledged to protect women’s rights to travel to other states for medical care.

But if the procedure is banned where women without legal immigration status live, they are more likely to have difficulty crossing state lines to access abortions, said Lopez Rodriguez, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, a New York-based advocacy organization.

According to a 2021 report from the National Immigration Law Center, several states with so-called “trigger” laws – such as Texas, Arizona and Florida – have large immigrant populations but do not allow people without legal status to obtain driving licenses.

The U.S. Border Patrol maintains a network of about 110 checkpoints along U.S. roads, most of which are located within 25 to 100 miles (40-160 km) of the country’s border. Fear of being caught at immigration checkpoints and possibly deportation makes it “virtually impossible” for many people living illegally in the country to travel across state lines, Rodriguez said.

Biden officials are exploring ways to give abortions to pregnant women and girls in U.S. immigration custody in states with bans, four U.S. officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity to discuss government plans.

Many federal shelters for unaccompanied children detained at the U.S.-Mexico border are located in Texas, where a Republican-backed law that went into effect in September banned abortion for six weeks.

For the past nine months, U.S. health officials have been flying or driving minors from Texas shelters to other states for abortions. Advocates say more guidance is needed now, and faster.

“Time is really the key when someone needs access to an abortion,” said Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the Reproductive Freedom Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Federal judges in several states have suspended the ban, but confusion reigns as legal battles continue.

A 27-year-old Honduran woman who now lives in Texas, and asked to keep her name secret because of confidentiality, said she lost her student visa after leaving college in 2015 due to abortion pressures. She has no legal status in the United States, she said, adding that she did not know what to do if she found herself in an unwanted pregnancy again. “I’m in that position now, I don’t have the paperwork, why should I take my own risk?” He said.

(Reporting by Sophia Ahmed in New York; Additional reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Editing by Mika Rosenberg and Diane Craft)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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