February 1, 2018 Press Release

Watchdog Groups Sue HHS for Records Related to Agency Efforts to Stop Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors from Obtaining Abortions

Suit Follows Shocking Report on Office of Refugee Resettlement Conduct

02.01.18 – Today, Equity Forward and Campaign for Accountability (CfA), represented by American Oversight, are filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) seeking records from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) regarding the efforts to prevent unaccompanied immigrant minors from exercising their constitutional right to abortion.

The lawsuits come amid a report that ORR Director Scott Lloyd discussed having a minor within the agency’s care undergo an unproven “abortion reversal” procedure aimed at reversing a medication-induced abortion. The medical community has been critical of the procedure. Both the American Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists have stated, “there is no credible, medical evidence that proves that any treatment ‘reverses’ the effects of mifepristone.”

Equity Forward Executive Director Mary Alice Carter stated, “All Americans should be concerned that HHS suggested a minor in ORR’s care undergo an experimental, unproven medical procedure. Equity Forward has been trying to obtain records about ORR’s actions for months. Perhaps now that Secretary Azar has joined HHS, he will promote a culture change toward transparency and accountability.”

Campaign for Accountability Executive Director Daniel Stevens stated, “By promoting medical experiments on vulnerable children imprisoned under his care, Scott Lloyd appears to be violating human rights laws. The American government should be ashamed and embarrassed. HHS should immediately release all records regarding ORR’s activities and hold employees accountable for their outrageous conduct.”

Separately, both Equity Forward and CfA submitted FOIA requests to HHS in the fall of 2017 seeking communications and records relating to ORR’s change in guidance regarding unaccompanied minors who request reproductive health services, as well as communications between HHS/ORR officials and others surrounding the highly publicized cases in which ORR has attempted to deny minors these services.

American Oversight executive director Austin Evers stated, “HHS regularly tries to shield its most controversial actions from view, but the law allows Americans to learn what our government is doing in our name. American Oversight is committed to uncovering the truth about these outrageous abuses, and we’re proud to help Equity Forward and CfA obtain the documents to which they – and the public – are entitled.”

To read the supporting documents, click here: Equity Forward FOIACampaign for Accountability FOIAAmerican Oversight Complaint.

American Oversight is a non-partisan ethics watchdog committed to holding the government accountable by exposing and publicizing evidence of corruption, conflicts of interest, and misconduct across the administration.

Campaign for Accountability is a non-profit, nonpartisan watchdog organization that uses research, litigation and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.

Equity Forward seeks to understand the who, what, where, when, why, and how behind the forces actively working to limit – or eliminate – access to abortion, contraceptives, and reproductive health care. We turn that research into proactive communication campaigns to promote, protect, and defend access to care.