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Washington, DC — This morning, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, under the Trump-Pence administration, moved to end asylum protections for most Central American migrants.  According to this new rule, expected to go into effect on Tuesday, asylum seekers who pass through another country before reaching the United States will be ineligible for asylum when they reach the southern border. This is a clear attempt to block asylum-seekers from attempting to enter the country and deny them their right to safety.

Statement from Bridgette Gomez, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

Health and safety should not have borders. Everyone deserves the opportunity to seek a safe and healthy life — no matter what. Asylum-seekers leave everything behind often fleeing violence including sexual violence or reproductive coercion to find refuge in the United States.  At Planned Parenthood, our doors are open to everyone, including those who have nowhere else to turn. Our country should not be turning our backs on people, many of whom are the most vulnerable, just when they need our help the most. Planned Parenthood condemns the administration’s callous and relentless attempts to divide our families, our country, and our world. Planned Parenthood will continue to stand with immigrant communities and be a vocal advocate alongside our immigration partners in the fight to end these atrocities.

Asylum-seekers who are also survivors of sexual assault aren’t only fleeing unprecedented levels of violence but are further driven out by policies that strip them of bodily autonomy. Latin America is the only region in the world where births among girls under 15 years old is on the rise. And nearly 90% of pregnancies in girls under 14 years old are the result of rape. Yet, the region also has some of the most draconian abortion restrictions in the world, including El Salvador and Honduras, where abortion is criminalized, and Guatemala, where despite legal exceptions, pregnant girls are still forced to carry to term. That’s why, today nearly 80 organizations released a comprehensive Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice, which includes a call for the U.S. to explicitly allow individuals to seek asylum on the basis of domestic violence, or those facing persecution from reproductive coercion, including forced pregnancy.  

An innovative litigation by a coalition of organizations submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee earlier this year is attempting to hold governments in the region accountable for this epidemic of violence, but the Trump-Pence administration’s inhumane policies continue to undermine this work and exacerbate the very conditions that drive people to seek  asylum.  

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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.

For more than 45 years, Planned Parenthood Federation of America has supported access to sexual and reproductive health care and advocated for reproductive rights around the world through our international arm, Planned Parenthood Global. In partnership with more than 120 organizations across 12 focus countries in Africa and Latin America, we advance the health and rights of young people, women and families, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable and underserved. Last year, our partners reached over a million people with sexual and reproductive health information and services provided by our partners. Our unique sustainability model sets us apart, as we empower partners to stand on their own. We help grassroots organizations develop solid reproductive health programs, identify other sources of funding, build their communications and advocacy skills, and develop strategic plans.