Scott Lloyd, the anti-abortion activist who heads the Trump administration’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, blocked a detained immigrant teenager from leaving a shelter to receive an abortion even though she had been raped, arguing it would be curing “violence with further violence,” according to documents unsealed as part of a lawsuit on Thursday.
Lloyd has taken the unprecedented step of requiring his personal approval for all abortions for immigrant girls in custody.
″[W]e are being asked to participate in killing a human being in our care,” Lloyd wrote in an internal Dec. 17 memo, noting that the 17-year-old girl had been raped in her home country and had threatened to harm herself if she was unable to have an abortion.
“I cannot direct the program to proceed in this manner. We cannot be a place of refuge while we are at the same time a place of violence. We have to choose, and we ought to choose protect life rather than to destroy it.”
“I am convinced that assisting with an abortion in this case is not in her best interest,” he added.
“I am mindful that abortion is offered by some as a solution to a rape,” Lloyd wrote. “I disagree. To decline to assist in an abortion here is to decline to participate in violence against an innocent life.”
The teen was ultimately able to have the abortion procedure after a district court blocked the Trump administration’s decision to deny her the abortion.
″[S]ome would suggest that, by declining to assist in the abortion we are in some way engaging in a form of violence against the mother, as in the notion that ORR is forcing her to carry her pregnancy to term,” he wrote. “I disagree. Implicit here are the dubious notions that it is possible to cure violence with further violence, and that the destruction of an unborn child’s life can in some instances be acceptable as a means to an end.”
The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the Trump administration on behalf of the teen and on behalf of others in similar situations.
“This story continues to get more unreal,” Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement. “This latest revelation exposes the Trump administration’s extreme anti-abortion ideology: it seeks to force women to continue pregnancies against their will.”
The Huffington Post reports:
But it’s not only victims of rape for whom the ACLU is fighting. Other girls have similarly been blocked from leaving shelters to obtain abortions. On multiple occasions, Lloyd or other officials have even personally urged teens to change their decisions about whether to terminate a pregnancy, according to the ACLU.
The Trump administration has argued it isn’t forcing girls to continue unwanted pregnancies, but rather is simply declining to facilitate them. A government attorney said in court that minors could just agree to leave the U.S. for their native countries ― some of which outlaw abortion ― or be released to a sponsor and then obtain the procedure.