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WASHINGTON — This week, after three years of fighting in the courts, the Trump Administration finally relented and changed an abhorrent policy that violated the human and reproductive rights of young immigrants. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) must now protect the privacy of pregnant teenagers in its custody and allow them to obtain abortions if that is their decision.

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“This week, the Trump Administration finally abandoned an egregious and unlawful policy that should never have existed in the first place. Immigrants are human beings with autonomy and rights, not bodies to be controlled, and one’s documentation status should not change that. Preventing immigrants, predominantly Latinas in this case, from having full autonomy over their bodies and reproductive futures is white supremacy in action. This policy was another in the long line of inhumane attacks against immigrants by this administration, and we will not rest while any of these injustices continue.”

In March of 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services first implemented this dangerous and unconstitutional policy change, dictating that ORR would intervene in cases of young people deciding to access abortion. A number of subsequent court orders — resulting from the tireless work of the American Civil Liberties Union and their partners — forced the administration to halt this practice. The administration nevertheless continued the legal battle and pushed for the ability to notify a teenager’s parents about their choice to get an abortion without the teen’s consent. Yesterday, ORR finally changed its policy, ending the legal battle.

This week’s policy change also comes less than two weeks after Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), refused to comply with a subpoena to appear at a U.S. House hearing to respond to allegations of coerced hysterectomies at the Irwin County ICE detention facility in Georgia as detailed by whistleblower Dawn Wooten. The allegations out of Georgia were just the latest reports of cruelties against immigrants at DHS, including barbaric family separation policies and a cursory response to the COVID-19 crisis that has led to senseless loss of life. As we work towards a world with true reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy for people of all immigration statuses, this policy change is an important step closer to that vision.


Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational, advocacy and electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.