After months of doing everything in its power to prevent several undocumented women from accessing abortion, news has broken that Trump’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) discussed “reversing” a young woman’s abortion using a procedure unsupported by science. The driving force behind the administration’s torture of traumatized young refugees seeking necessary reproductive care? Scott Lloyd, ORR director.
Lloyd oversees detained unaccompanied minors, yet has no experience in refugee resettlement and has a long history of promoting anti-woman rhetoric. He is clearly in this position because his anti-immigrant and anti-abortion agenda aligns with Trump.
Abortion “reversal” is not supported by science or the medical community. Anti-abortion extremists’ “reversal” procedure involves injecting the hormone progesterone into the pregnant person after they take the first out of two abortifacient pills in order to questionably stop the abortion. Forcing women in the care of ORR to undergo this procedure – as Lloyd seriously considered – reduces them to science experiments, and falls squarely in line with the U.S.’s long history of conducting reproductive health experiments on enslaved black women or low-income Puerto Rican women, to name a few examples.
Named the “anti-abortion crusader” by the New York Times editorial board, Lloyd has dedicated his career to promoting medically-inaccurate information about sexual and reproductive health. He worked as an attorney at religiously-affiliated firms like LegalWorks Apostolate, and then pivoted into politics by working for the George W. Bush administration at Health and Human Services. In this role, he co-authored a “conscience” rule which would have permitted medical providers to refuse to administer contraception, abortion, and other services on moral grounds. The Obama administration rescinded this ruling because the language was incredibly broad and could be interpreted to allow medical professionals to deny patients any form of essential care. Reproductive rights advocates hold firmly that medical professionals have a legal duty to fulfill their patients’ medical needs.
In a post for a right-wing anti-abortion blog, Lloyd attacked Planned Parenthood and promoted myths about contraception causing abortion, claiming that taking contraceptives can result in early abortions. In addition to promoting false information, Lloyd has proposed absurdly restrictive measures on women’s decision to choose if and when to parent.
“I suggest that the American people make a deal with women: So long as you are using the condom, pill or patch I am providing with my money, you are going to promise not to have an abortion if the contraception fails, which it often does,” wrote Lloyd in the National Catholic Register. He goes on to suggest that all women who are on birth control should be required to sign an anti-abortion pledge promising to never terminate a pregnancy if birth control fails them. His reasoning is punitive – if contraception fails, women should be penalized for their sexual behavior. Contraception is not a prize women get in exchange for carrying unwanted pregnancies: contraception is healthcare.
As an attorney, one might think Lloyd would respect the law, yet his professional background has enabled him to exploit it to harm immigrant women. Recently the American Civil Liberties Union brought Lloyd to court for denying immigrant women their right to access abortion among other violations such as requiring pregnant teens to attend anti-abortion counseling, requiring pregnant teens to have sonograms against their will, and preventing pregnant teens from doctors visits. ACLU and Planned Parenthood are rightfully calling for his removal. It is not up to him to force someone to be pregnant against their will.
Scott Lloyd should be removed from his position immediately. He was selected to lead the Office of Refugee Resettlement not because he has experience working with refugees – he obviously doesn’t – but because he is manipulative and paternalistic enough to impede upon women’s reproductive freedom. His actions against undocumented teens exercising their rights to receive safe healthcare is abhorrent, and part of a trend in our current Administration’s misogynist agenda.
Image Credit: Vice News