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Migrant Abortion Access

In October 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) decision to block an undocumented 17-year-old girl detained at one of their facilities from having an abortion. ORR had refused to transport the teenager, “Jane Doe,” to get the abortion — even after she had obtained proper judicial bypass to undergo the procedure without parental consent, and had private funding to finance it. Furthermore, former ORR Director Scott Lloyd reportedly instructed staffers to tell Jane Doe’s parents that she was pregnant despite Doe’s fear of abuse from her parents. While pregnant in custody, Doe was forced to undergo “life affirming” counseling at an anti-abortion center, to obtain a sonogram, and was under intensive surveillance by guards. Later that month, a federal court ruled that ORR was violating Jane Doe’s constitutional right to obtain her abortion. At 15 weeks pregnant, Doe was able to terminate her pregnancy.  

Jane Doe’s case was far from the only instance in which Lloyd’s ORR sought to influence and deny undocumented minors’ reproductive rights. He pushed “spiritual counseling” and ultrasounds at anti-abortion centers in March 2017, has personally met with teens to dissuade them from obtaining abortions, has suggested abortion “reversals” and refused an abortion request from a young woman pregnant due to rape with the argument that you cannot “cure violence with further violence.” ORR has remained legally embattled on this front, with a federal court again ruling that ORR was violating unaccompanied teens’ constitutional rights to obtain abortions in March 2018.