Health Care

Top Dem: Official who denied abortions for unaccompanied minors should resign

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Thursday called for the resignation of Scott Lloyd, an official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) who has tried to block unaccompanied minors in U.S. custody from getting abortions. 

“Under Scott Lloyd’s leadership, 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,” Murray, ranking Democrat of the Senate Health Committee, said in a statement Thursday. 

“As a woman, a mother and a grandmother, 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,” she said. 

HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which cares for minors who enter the country without their parents, took an “ad hoc” approach to blocking pregnant minors from getting abortions, according to a deposition of Lloyd released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is suing the administration over the policy.

{mosads}The ORR did not have any formal written policies in place for blocking the minors from getting abortions, but staff were notified that all abortions required his approval unless the minor’s life was in danger, according to his deposition.

Lloyd has never approved an abortion request, according to the deposition, and denied seven requests from March to December 2017.

In emails with staff, Lloyd said he “will work on formalizing these procedures but will have to do it ad hoc for now,” according to the deposition. 

Lloyd elaborated in his deposition that he has not yet formalized the policy and was blocking abortions on a case-by-case basis. 

Lloyd also said in the deposition that he doesn’t believe unaccompanied minors have a constitutional right to abortions. 

The ACLU has battled the Trump administration over the policy, representing four pregnant unaccompanied minors who had been blocked from getting abortions. 

In three cases, the girls were able to get abortions, while the fourth was released to a sponsor. 

The new policy represents a significant departure from how previous administrations handled pregnant unaccompanied minors in U.S. custody seeking abortions. 

Under former Presidents Obama and Bush, the ORR director only had to sign off on abortions when federal funds were requested for the procedure, often in cases of rape or incest.  

Lloyd also denied an abortion for a minor who was raped, writing in a December memo that it would be “violence against an innocent life.” 

ORR staff were also instructed to look into the possibility of reversing a medication abortion after a minor underwent one.

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