The top official in charge of the Trump administration’s Office of Refugee Resettlement was so desperate to make an undocumented teenage woman’s medical choices for her that he actively weighed subjecting her to an unproven, experimental procedure to “reverse” her abortion, according to Vice News.
The site reported on Wednesday that agency head Scott Lloyd—a longtime anti-abortion activist—talked with his staff about possibly trying to halt the abortion of an undocumented teen who was in the agency’s care last March.
The concept of “abortion reversal” has gained steam in anti-abortion circles, with at least four states trying to write research for the experimental procedure into law. Activists and anti-abortion doctors insist that flooding a pregnant woman’s body with the hormone progesterone after she’s taken the first of two pills required to complete a medical abortion can save the fetus. There’s no solid scientific evidence that this would actually happen, or that the mother would be safe.
Even so, emails obtained by Vice and sent to the clinic handling the women’s abortion explicitly mention progesterone, asking if it could feasibly be used “for the purpose of aborting a chemical abortion process.”
Vice also obtained transcripts of a deposition brought against the Trump administration by the American Civil Liberties Union. In it, Lloyd confirmed he discussed trying out the experimental procedure on the teen. All this came after the office had already forced her to delay taking the second pill for hours in order to establish the “health status” of her “unborn child,” according to a March 6, 2017 memo. Officials also subjected the teen to an examination at a local hospital, where medical professionals found a fetal heartbeat more than 24 hours after she took the first pill.
Asked by Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, why on earth government officials subjected the teen to this treatment, Lloyd responded:
“I’m not, I’m not exactly sure.”
“Did you have conversations about whether the medication abortion could be reversed?” she asked.
“I may have,” Lloyd said.
Amiri asked, “Who did you have those conversations with?”
Lloyd said, “Other transition staff, including attorneys.”
“Why would ORR seek to try to reverse the abortion of an unaccompanied minor?”
“I don’t know, I mean except to save the life of the baby,” Lloyd replied.
The woman, who has not been named, was eventually granted permission by the Trump administration to complete the abortion.
Since October, four undocumented teens have said the administration has tried to prevent them for having abortions, with the Department of Justice waging an ultimately unsuccessful legal battle to bar a 19-year-old and a 17-year-old from the procedure. One of those women is a rape victim who found out she was pregnant after entering the country. Lloyd argued there was “no reason” for her to seek an abortion, arguing that the procedure involves “violence that has the ultimate destruction of another human being as its goal.”
In a ruling against the DOJ, federal judge Patricia Millett wrote:
Surely the mere act of entry into the United States without documentation does not mean that an immigrant’s body is no longer her or his own. Nor can the sanction for unlawful entry be forcing a child to have a baby.