Several lawmakers have joined women’s health, immigration, and human rights advocates in calling for the resignation or firing of Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Director Scott Lloyd.
Lloyd, a Trump appointee, religious zealot, and fervent anti–abortion activist who has little prior experience working with refugees, has generated widespread criticism for his efforts to prevent undocumented minors from seeking abortions. That includes a young woman who was raped.
This week, activists held a rally at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees the ORR, to present 270,000 signatures demanding that Lloyd be ousted, the organization Race Forward’s news site ColorLines reported. Lawmakers Jerry Nadler (NY), Rosa DeLauro (CT), and Tony Cárdenas (CA) joined the rally.
“We’ve been saying this for months, and our calls will continue until Scott Lloyd is gone. 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,” NARAL Pro-Choice America National Communications Director Kaylie Hanson Long said this week.
Planned Parenthood has been calling for Lloyd to be fired for months. In a January news release, the group said:
Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Director Scott Lloyd personally and unconstitutionally used his position to intervene in young immigrant women’s personal medical decisions, including one who was a rape survivor, by contacting the women directly, ordering that all decisions about accessing safe, legal abortion go through him personally, and directing that they be taken to anti-abortion centers that often manipulate women and provide inaccurate information about abortion. Courts eventually had to intervene multiple times to ensure the women were able to access safe, legal abortion.
According to The Hill, reproductive health watchdog group Equity Forward this week “launched a six-figure ad campaign with digital ads running through the end of the month and a full page ad in the New York Times calling on HHS Secretary Alex Azar to fire Lloyd.”
The ACLU, which has represented four unaccompanied minors who were blocked from accessing abortions, has said that “the only way a pregnant minor in ORR custody can obtain access to an abortion, or even objective counseling about her options, is if Lloyd himself personally approves the abortion request.” But as Splinter’s Katie McDonough previously reported, Lloyd opposes abortion even in the case of rape.
“To decline to assist in an abortion here is to decline to participate in violence against an innocent life,” Lloyd stated in a letter outlining the ORR’s position on the issue. He added: “Moral and criminal responsibility for the pregnancy lies with the attacker, and no one else.”
In January, Vice News reported that Lloyd had tried to intervene to stop an undocumented teen in the agency’s care from having an abortion by proposing an experimental procedure known as “abortion reversal.” This involves 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, Splinter’s Katherine Krueger noted. Lloyd is not a doctor.
Luckily, the ACLU has legally intervened to halt Lloyd’s harassment of the young women, and at least one federal judge has ruled against the Department of Justice on the matter. “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,” federal judge Patricia Millett wrote.
In the cases the ACLU has represented, three young women were able to eventually access abortions, while a fourth was released to a sponsor, The Hill reported.
All of this points to the fact that Lloyd, a former attorney for a Catholic organization called Knights of Columbus, has no business working in any government office, much less one that oversees the protection of the fundamental human rights of the teenagers and others in its care. As the ACLU notes, “There are hundreds of pregnant young women in ORR’s custody each year and Lloyd is still applying his policy to them.”