Health Care

Trump official says unaccompanied minors don’t have constitutional right to abortions


The Trump administration official who has denied abortions to unaccompanied minors in U.S. custody said he does not believe they have a constitutional right to the procedure. 

Scott Lloyd, the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which cares for minors who enter the country without their parents, denied seven abortion requests between March and Dec. 19, 2017, according to documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is suing the administration over the policy. 

{mosads}In a deposition Lloyd gave in December, he replied “yes” when asked if he believed unaccompanied minors have “no constitutional right to abortion.” 

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. 

Lloyd previously worked for the Knights of Columbus, a group that opposes abortion. 

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.  

Jonathan White, deputy director of the ORR, said in his deposition also released by the ACLU that the new policy was made by political appointees, including Maggie Wynne, a counselor at Health and Human Services, and Lloyd. 

ORR staffers were notified that all abortions required the director’s approval unless the minor’s life was in danger. 

Lloyd also directed shelters funded by the ORR to give minors asking for abortions “life-affirming” counseling. 

Lloyd also denied an abortion for a minor that was raped.

“Certainly, it is understandable that a woman who is pregnant from the vile actions of a criminal would want to terminate her pregnancy,” Lloyd wrote in a Dec. 17 memo. “But I cannot authorize our program to participate in the abortion requested here, even in this most difficult case.” 

According to the dispositions, Lloyd has never approved an abortion during his tenure as ORR director. 

White also testified that under the direction of Wynne, ORR staff were instructed to look into the possibility of reversing a medication abortion. 


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