News Immigration

Trump Administration’s Anti-Abortion Refugee Policy Under Review After Legal Battle

Tina Vasquez

The Trump administration in March implemented a revised policy “that allows [shelters] to wield an unconstitutional veto power over unaccompanied immigrant minors’ access to abortion."

Read more of our coverage of Jane Doe’s case here.

Three days after Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Director Scott Lloyd confirmed he personally visited pregnant minors in his agency’s care to dissuade them from seeking abortion care, he has confirmed that ORR’s anti-abortion policy is “under review.”

“We’re taking a look at our policy to see if any changes are needed,” Lloyd told the Christian Broadcasting Network on Monday. 

Lloyd, considered by immigrant advocates as one of President Trump’s many religiously ideological appointees, is said to lack the experience and qualifications necessary to handle the oversight of some of the world’s most vulnerable children, including young people like Jane Doe, the teen his agency “held hostage” and blocked from accessing abortion care.

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Jane Doe fled gender-based violence in Central America and was being held in a Brownsville, Texas, shelter when she obtained the judicial bypass Texas required for her to access abortion care without her parents’ consent, but her care was postponed for weeks because of court proceedings. Jane Doe was finally able to access abortion care this month, but her procedure was delayed because of a controversialand unconstitutional, as argued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)policy put into place by the Trump administration.

The Trump administration in March implemented a revised policy “that allows [shelters] to wield an unconstitutional veto power over unaccompanied immigrant minors’ access to abortion,” according to court documents. This directive prevents unaccompanied immigrant minors in the government’s care from obtaining abortions by prohibiting federally funded shelters from taking “‘any action that facilitates’ abortion access for unaccompanied minors in their care without ‘direction and approval’” from Lloyd. 

The federal government has until November 20 to address the larger class action lawsuit on its anti-abortion policy.

Filed in June 2016, the ACLU lawsuit against the federal government addresses the government’s funding of religious organizations tasked with providing care, including access to medical care for unaccompanied immigrant minors. The government allows these organizations “to refuse on religious grounds to follow the law that requires them to provide these young people with access to contraception and abortion, even if the minor has been raped,” the ACLU reported. This includes organizations such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has been awarded upwards of $10 million to care for immigrant minors, despite the religious institution’s refusal to allow young people to access abortion services.

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