Equity Forward Statement on VICE Report

HHS Putting Young Women in Danger, Azar Must Act

01.31.18 – Today, VICE broke a story about Office of Refugee Resettlement Director E. Scott “Scott” Lloyd, who has taken unprecedented steps to personally involve himself in the reproductive health care of young, undocumented women in his care. This disturbing news comes on HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s third day on the job.

“The Trump Administration’s HHS is jeopardizing the health and lives of young women in the agency’s care in pursuit of a personal ideology,” said Equity Forward executive director Mary Alice Carter. “ORR Director Scott Lloyd went against medical evidence and against medical advice because he did not personally agree with the constitutional choice of a vulnerable young woman.”

“Does Secretary Azar believe this is how his agency should be run? It’s Azar’s third day on the job but his house is clearly not in order. He must launch an internal investigation immediately. HHS is now his agency — he can either hold his employees to an ethical standard or be responsible for their dangerous conduct. The ball is in Azar’s court.”

Just this morning, Equity Forward filed numerous Freedom of Information Act requests regarding ORR, Director Lloyd, and agency staff handling cases of pregnant, undocumented minors. These requests are in addition to requests Equity Forward already has in the pipeline as a part of HHS Watch, an ongoing campaign to push for transparency and accountability at HHS.

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VICE: EXCLUSIVE: TRUMP OFFICIALS DISCUSSED “REVERSING” ABORTION FOR UNDOCUMENTED TEEN

By Carter Sherman, 01.31.18

The Trump administration official in charge of the Office of Refugee Resettlement discussed trying to use a controversial, scientifically unproven method to reverse an undocumented teen’s abortion, according to documents reviewed by VICE News.

Scott Lloyd, a longtime crusader against abortion who heads the agency that oversees undocumented minors who enter the country without their parents, spoke with staffers about trying to reverse the abortion of a pregnant teen in their custody, according to a deposition he underwent as part of a lawsuit between the Trump administration and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In the past few years, opponents of abortion have championed the idea of halting a medication abortion midway by using the hormone progesterone. Anti-abortion activists have pushed governors in four states to sign laws requiring healthcare providers to tell patients about this so-called “abortion reversal” method. But there is no credible medical evidence that such a procedure works, and the mainstream medical community worries that using it amounts to experimentation on women.

Nevertheless, Lloyd said in the deposition that he and his staff discussed the possibility of abortion reversal. Emails obtained by VICE News, including one sent last March to the clinic handling the abortion of a teenager in ORR’s custody, also mention progesterone explicitly and show that officials had questions about the feasibility of using it “for the purpose of aborting a chemical abortion process.”

[…]

In the December deposition, Amiri asked Lloyd why ORR officials would undertake such a hospital visit. Lloyd told her, “I’m not, I’m not exactly sure.”

“Did you have conversations about whether the medication abortion could be reversed?” she asked.

“I may have,” Lloyd said.

Amiri asked, “Who did you have those conversations with?”

Lloyd said, “Other transition staff, including attorneys.”

“Why would ORR seek to try to reverse the abortion of an unaccompanied minor?”

“I don’t know, I mean except to save the life of the baby,” Lloyd replied.

[…]

On the same day Tota sent that memo, the abortion clinic handling the teen’s care received an email from an official at the ORR-operated shelter housing the teen, which asked questions about the safety of using the hormone progesterone to reverse an abortion.

“On behalf of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, please answer this questionnaire as soon as possible,” the email begins. It goes on to ask four questions, including, “To the best of your knowledge and clinical practice, is the administration of progesterone following administration of Mefiprix [sic], but before the administration of Cytotec, for the purpose of aborting a chemical abortion process, widely practiced?”

Cytotec and “Mefiprix,” which is likely a misspelled reference to Mifeprex, are drugs used to induce in medication abortion.

The abortion clinic didn’t reply to this email, according to a clinic representative who asked to remain anonymous due to safety concerns. HHS’ Administration of Children and Families also declined to comment on whether any ORR-affiliated official ever contacted this clinic.

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