Immigrant Access to Abortion
is being restricted by the administration’s Office of Refugee Resettlement
Why It Matters
The Trump-Pence administration introduced a new policy that requires immigrants under the age of 18 who are in custody with the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to get the government’s approval to access safe, legal abortion.
The new policy aims to block young immigrant women from accessing abortion safely and legally.
The policy has been used to deny every request for abortion made so far, but all of the women requesting access have found a way around the new policy — including through a recent injunction that puts the policy on hold for now.
What to expect next
Despite an injunction, the government could continue pressuring refugees to not have abortions
Trump announces a policy to severely restrict asylum for immigrants
Rule proposed to keep low-income immigrants from entering or staying in the U.S.
Proposed family detention rule to let U.S. jail immigrant children indefinitely
Jeff Sessions says immigrants fleeing domestic violence don’t qualify for asylum
U.S. sharply increases separation of immigrant families at the border
Administration says it plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census
Refugee office head says he interfered with undocumented women’s abortion access
Administration starts detaining pregnant immigrants during legal proceedings
ACLU sues ORR for blocking a detained undocumented woman’s access to abortion
The administration announces it’s ending DACA
“This is my life, my decision. I want a better future. I want justice.”
Interfering in Immigrants’ Access to Safe, Legal Abortion
The administration's policy to interfere in immigrants’ access to safe, legal abortion affects the hundreds of pregnant, undocumented immigrant women who are in ORR’s custody every year. These women, who are age 17 or younger, are often alone and facing language and cultural barriers.
Background on the Office of Refugee Resettlement's Interference With Access to Abortion
Former ORR Director Scott Lloyd helped create the policy — which gives the refugee office director final say in whether young immigrant women can access safe, legal abortion. He is the one who gets to decide.Tracking Trump: Scott Lloyd
In one of many such cases, the ACLU sued the ORR in October 2017 for unconstitutionally blocking a young undocumented woman in its custody from access to abortion and violating the constitutional right to abortion. The policy has been fiercely defended by Secretary of HHS Alex Azar and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions — even though it’s clearly unconstitutional and therefore illegal.The Hill
According to documents released by MSNBC and American Bridge in March 2019, the government was not just tracking pregnant people. Reports indicate that the ORR director was also tracking the menstrual cycles of undocumented girls in its custody — ostensibly to find out if they became pregnant. Former ORR Director Scott Lloyd denied this under oath, but the revelations in the news spurred members of Congress to ask Lloyd to clarify.Hip Latina
The ORR denied at least seven young women’s requests for abortion — even when the pregnancy resulted from rape. All of these women were ultimately able to access abortion despite the government’s extreme efforts.New York Times
In an overreach of power, the ORR director received a weekly updated spreadsheet on the condition of every pregnant teen in its custody. Under Director Scott Lloyd, the ORR went so far as to consider forcing a teenage girl in custody to undergo an experimental and unproven treatment to "reverse" an abortion.Vice
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) used to have limits on detaining pregnant immigrants that almost always required releasing them on bond or under supervision. However, the administration has expanded ICE’s power to detain pregnant immigrants. The new policy to hold pregnant immigrants in custody during their immigration proceedings is having devastating effects on the detained women, their pregnancies, and their families. The number of undocumented women who had miscarriages while in government detention nearly doubled in the administration’s first two years.Tracking Trump: Detaining Pregnant Immigrant Women