A District Court Ruled that the Young Women Should Not Be Blocked
WASHINGTON D.C. - Last night, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) asked both the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court to block a young immigrant woman from accessing safe, legal abortion care. The government’s actions followed a ruling from a federal district court in D.C. that HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) could not block two young women from accessing safe, legal abortion — another in an increasingly long line of court decisions against President Trump’s ORR. The D.C. Circuit has issued an administrative stay of the district court’s order until 6:05 pm on Wednesday to give that court time to consider the government’s motion.
The Trump administration is arguing that minors in its custody who want to access abortion must either obtain a sponsor — which can take several months, by which time abortion will no longer be an option — or return to their home countries, from which they have often fled extreme conditions and abuse.
As the questioning of the federal district court made clear Monday morning, ORR Director Scott Lloyd is trying to impose his will on these women in violation of these young women’s constitutional rights. Politico reports that DC district court “(Judge) Chutkan sounded puzzled by the development, noting that in the state where the young woman is located, no parental or judicial permission is needed for a 17-year-old to receive an abortion. ‘How does that overcome her constitutional right?...How does ORR have more right over her than her parent?’ the judge asked.”
Dana Singiser, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Another court has ruled that women in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) should not be blocked from accessing safe, legal abortion. Every woman deserves access to basic health care, including abortion, regardless of her immigration status. Rather than respect this decision and step out of these young women’s way, the Trump administration is continuing its fight to block these women’s access to care, including trying to involve the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Scott Lloyd is imposing his personal beliefs on the young immigrant women in his agency’s care and violating their constitutional rights in the process. His overreach and abuse of power is putting these young women’s lives in danger. Scott Lloyd may think that, as undocumented immigrants, these women are not entitled to basic rights or control over their own bodies. But these women deserve support and justice from our government.
“This is not the first time that Scott Lloyd and the ORR have blocked young immigrant women from accessing health care and safe, legal abortion. If Lloyd remains in this role, it will not be the last. He is unfit to serve in the government and it is past time for him to leave ORR and HHS.”
In October, the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump administration must stop blocking Jane Doe, another young immigrant woman in detention, from accessing an abortion. The October case followed a March 2017 incident in which the ORR interfered with the administration of medication abortion to another unaccompanied minor at a federal shelter in Texas. Scott Lloyd has personally contacted one or more other unaccompanied immigrant minors who were pregnant and seeking abortion with the intent of talking them out of their decision.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.