Senate Dem Demands HHS Official's Resignation for Refusing to Facilitate Abortions for Teen Immigrants

Posted: Mar 02, 2018 2:15 PM

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) called for the resignation Thursday of Scott Lloyd, the director the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, due to remarks he made in a recently-released deposition that he does not believe unaccompanied minors have a constitutional right to abortion. He also said in emails to staff that since ORR did not have any formal policies in place for blocking minors in their custody from getting abortions, he "will work on formalizing these procedures but will have to do it ad hoc for now." 

“Under Scott Lloyd’s leadership,” Sen. Murray said in a statement, “an office tasked with caring for young, vulnerable women in our country’s custody has been turned into an ‘ad hoc’ testing ground for the Trump-Pence plan to interfere with women’s most personal health care decisions and take away women’s constitutional right to safe, legal abortion.”

“As a woman, a mother, and a grandmother,” she emphasized, “I am deeply concerned for the young women entrusted to this office’s care with Scott Lloyd as director. He is nothing less than a threat to their safety and should step down immediately.” 

The abortion advocacy group NARAL is also circulating a petition calling for Lloyd’s resignation.

The American Civil Liberties Union recently made Lloyd’s December deposition comments public, in their lawsuit against HHS over the policy. They are seeking a permanent injunction against ORR’s policy. In three cases that the ACLU has been involved in, the girls got abortions, and a fourth was released to a sponsor. 

The October case of Jane Doe, an unaccompanied minor who sought and obtained an abortion while in one of ORR’s federally funded shelters, started the legal battle between the Trump administration and the ACLU on this issue. The DOJ filed a Supreme Court petition in the case of Doe in November, arguing that ACLU attorneys misled them as to the timing of her abortion before they had a chance to file an appeal in the case.

Two more immigrant teens, Roe and Poe, were added to the ACLU’s fight against ORR but Roe’s case was dropped when it was revealed she was lying about her age and was not a minor, while Poe’s case was dismissed due to special circumstances cited by the government which they did not name.

ORR told Politico about their policy in October arguing that, in Doe’s case, they are “providing excellent care to this young woman and her unborn child and fulfilling our duty to the American people,” but “there is no constitutional right for a pregnant minor to illegally cross the U.S. border and get an elective abortion while in federal custody.”

Pro-life groups worry about the precedent that compelling the government to facilitate abortions for unaccompanied minors would set.

SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser commented on Doe’s case in October that “the ACLU is pushing its larger agenda of making the United States a sanctuary nation for abortion. This shameful ruling must not stand. The Trump administration’s policy is compassionate and consistent with American laws and values.”