This administration is hell-bent on attacking women’s health

This administration is hell-bent on attacking women’s health
© Getty Images

Watching President Donald Trump’s Twitter feuds with everyone from North Korea to Gold Star families is an embarrassing (and sometimes terrifying) sideshow for the entire country. But for women who need access to basic health care, the real danger is in the president’s appointees.

Scott Lloyd, the head of the Trump administration's Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), is just one example of why Trump’s appointees are so dangerous.

ADVERTISEMENT
Today, Lloyd refused to answer for his treatment of Jane Doe and countless others in his so-called “care.” And it’s no wonder — to answer would be to defend the indefensible.

 

Lloyd appeared at a House oversight hearing after a month during which this administration brought the full weight of the federal government to bear against a pregnant, undocumented 17-year-old in Texas, attempting to block her from getting the abortion that is her right. While justice finally prevailed for Jane Doe, her case revealed just how frighteningly far the Trump administration’s abuse of power and disregard of the Constitution extends.

As the office that oversees federally funded facilities that house refugees — including the one that’s housing Jane Doe — ORR is required to provide undocumented and unaccompanied minors with basic needs like food, shelter, and health care, including contraception and access to abortion.  

Yet, Lloyd inserted his personal beliefs into government policy, insisting that he be personally notified if any unaccompanied minor is seeking an abortion. He is actively engaged in preventing unaccompanied minors in the care of ORR from accessing abortion services. His pursuit of policies and personal practices designed to impose his views on young woman after young woman, denying them access to health care and constitutional rights is outrageous and wrong.

Because 60-80 percent of unaccompanied minors have suffered sexual assault, discovering a pregnancy upon arrival is not unusual. Jane Doe decided she wanted an abortion. As she said, “I knew immediately what was best for me then, as I do now – that I’m not ready to be a parent.” After making her decision, she overcame the many obstacles put in her path by Texas law.

But Lloyd and the Trump administration, were determined to stand in the way of her constitutional rights, using every tool at their disposal to prevent her from accessing the abortion she had a right to. Lloyd substituted his judgment for hers and for the court’s.

The most terrifying part is Lloyd can do this to countless other young women under his so-called “care” at ORR. Last year alone, 59,692 minors were referred to ORR. We don’t know how many are being denied care and rights, coerced and shamed for their decisions, and even denied the ability to see a lawyer.

Lloyd is ignoring these rights. That’s unsurprising, given his long history of anti-contraception and anti-abortion advocacy.  Prior to joining ORR, Lloyd was an attorney for the Knights of Columbus and served on the board of the Front Royal Pregnancy Center, a “crisis pregnancy center” in Virginia that aims to dissuade women from seeking an abortion.

He has suggested that women receiving contraception through federal funding should have to sign a “pledge” promising not to have an abortion and that the Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion infringe on men’s “right to procreation.”

The administration is full of Scott Lloyds.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE has filled key positions with anti-science, anti-women’s health extremists, like a former lobbyist for the National Right to Life Committee who claims that contraception doesn’t work (Teresa Manning), an anti-sex ed activist who is in now charge of programs to reduce unintended pregnancy (Valerie Huber), and a spokesperson who wrongly claims that abortion causes breast cancer (Charmaine Yoest).

This administration has been hell-bent on attacking women’s health and rights from day one. These latest actions reveal the clear disdain this administration has for a woman’s right to control her own body and its hostility towards immigrants, particularly immigrants of color.

During the hearing today, Lloyd appeared with four other officials who oversee young women like Jane Doe. All of them were white men. These are the people deciding our fate.

Now, in this country, it is dangerous to be anything but one of them.  

Dana E. Singiser is the vice president of public policy and government affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.