Scott Lloyd came to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) with “a history in the anti-abortion movement,” according to the New York Times. “Before he joined the Trump administration, he worked as a policy coordinator for the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal order, and served on the board of a crisis pregnancy center in Virginia. On the résumé and cover letter he submitted to the department, he listed his work experience as the ‘architect’ of a late-term abortion ban that is now law in six states.” Now as director of ORR, Lloyd is using his position to block pregnant teens in his custody from accessing their right to an abortion:
He has instructed his staff to give him a spreadsheet each week that tells him about any unaccompanied minors who have asked for one and how far along they are in their pregnancy. In at least one case he directed staff to read to one girl a description of what happens during an abortion. And when there’s a need for counseling, Mr. Lloyd’s office calls on someone from its list of preferred “life affirming” pregnancy resource centers.
In the case of one detained minor, “Jane Doe,” Daily Kos’s Kelly Macias wrote last year that Lloyd “acknowledges Jane Doe’s emotional distress as indicated by a doctor. But instead of making sure she is taken care of and has access to the abortion she seeks, he not only tries to force her into spiritual counseling, he also attempts to keep her from seeing her lawyers.” After a month-long legal battle that saw “a state judge, a federal judge, a panel of appeal judges and the full appeals court” all affirm that Jane had a right to access an abortion, she was finally able to get one:
Last fall Mr. Lloyd’s refusal to let a 17-year-old in Texas leave the shelter where she was living to get an abortion drew an admonishment from a federal judge who said she was “astounded” the government had been so insistent on keeping someone from obtaining a constitutionally protected procedure. Last week another judge barred him from trying to prevent any girl in his care from getting an abortion, but government lawyers have asked for a stay and plan to appeal.
The ORR is supposed to be an agency that “oversees the assistance program for the tens of thousands of refugees who still seek shelter in the United States”—including unaccompanied minors—and help war-torn, traumatized, but hopeful people seeking a second chance at life settle in America to start brand-new lives. Instead, Lloyd and other anti-choice hires within the Trump administration are seeking to impose their radical agenda within governmental agencies, and stomping on the constitutional rights of detained young women in the process.
What should be of huge concern is the administration’s gradual chipping away of reproductive rights, which, when done at lower-agency level, may not get as much attention as if, say, Congress or the Supreme Court were to take it up. In Lloyd’s case, his extremism has led to him denying “at least one request for an abortion from a girl who said she had been raped”:
Unlike previous Republican administrations, when it was Congress or the Supreme Court that initiated the biggest changes to abortion law, many of the most significant developments today are occurring at the agency level, largely out of public view. And that troubles liberal advocates like the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued Mr. Lloyd and won several times.
“There’s much more action at the federal level under Trump than there has been with other administrations,” said Jennifer Dalven, the director of the A.C.L.U.’s Reproductive Freedom Project.
And when that action occurs mostly under the radar, she added, “you don’t provoke the same level of outrage from the public. It’s quiet. People don’t see it. And unlike if you were to overturn Roe v. Wade, you don’t have people marching in the streets.”
Since the week he took office, Mr. Trump has issued several orders that have thrown up roadblocks to access to abortion and reproductive health care.
Just three days after his inauguration, he reinstated a policy first implemented by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 that prohibits foreign nongovernmental organizations from performing or discussing abortions as a family planning option if they want to receive American funding.
When it comes to Lloyd, numerous congressional members have called for his resignation, adding to the 270,000 petition signatures calling for his ouster. “We’ve been saying this for months, and our calls will continue until Scott Lloyd is gone,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America National Communications director Kaylie Hanson Long. “With every bit of new information, we get further confirmation that Lloyd is obsessed with blocking women from accessing their right to abortion care, even if it means putting his other duties to the side.”
“Back in October,” tweeted Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), “I questioned Scott Lloyd and it was more than apparent that he's unfit to lead the Office of Refugee Resettlement. He's not a doctor or a counselor, but he still thinks it's his right to dictate what women do with their own bodies.” Jane, following her abortion, said that ”people I don’t even know are trying to make me change my mind. No one should be shamed for making the right decision for themselves. I would not tell any other girl in my situation what they should do. That decision is hers and hers alone.”