The Trump Administration is (Still) Disrupting Abortion Access for Migrant Teens in Custody

The 17-year-old identified as Jane Doe in court documents learned that she was pregnant while being held in a facility funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). She had just crossed the border as an unaccompanied minor. Jane needed an abortion. But for her first appointment, a counseling session mandated by the state of Texas prior to the procedure, she was a taken by federal officials to a crisis pregnancy center—a fake clinic.

Jane fought back. With the help of the ACLU, she sued the Trump administration—and obtained an abortion. But her fight goes on. Three more young immigrants in detention centers have had to take Trump’s administration to court to receive proper access to abortion since Doe’s case.

Liz Lemon / Creative Commons

The director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Scott Lloyd, who assumed his role last March, has little experience with the communities that his office is supposed to aid. Instead, the man dubbed an “anti-abortion zealot” by The New York Times editorial board has taken to using his post to advance his own agenda on reproductive rights. Lloyd personally ensured that Doe’s abortion was delayed, doing all he could in his power to stop her from obtaining a safe and legal procedure for over a month.

“It is shocking and disgusting that the administration is abusing their power over minors in order to advance their draconian ideological agenda,” Gaylynn Burroughs, Director of Policy and Research at Feminist Majority Foundation, said in a statement. “It is especially cruel considering all that these young people might have gone through before falling into federal custody—60 percent of female migrants have been victims of rape.”

Though Doe was in federal custody, due to her stay in a shelter funded by the government, the move was unconstitutional—and scary for its larger implications. New information also shows that Lloyd may have attempted to “reverse” her abortion, further complicating the case by making certain that the Trump administration is using junk science to advance a regressive and dangerous agenda that leaves women and girls in danger.

A spokesman for Lloyd told The Washington Post that “he by law has custody of these children, and just like a foster parent, he knows that that’s a lot of responsibility and he is going to make choices that he thinks are best for both the mother and the child.” The FMF launched a petition campaign calling for Lloyd’s immediate removal and an end to ORR’s unconstitutional policy banning abortions for those in its care.

Jane Doe is not her real name. Regardless, the rallying cry that this court document name has taken as of late hints at the pervasiveness of the Trump administration’s attacks on people like Doe—immigrants, minors, women. Her story is proof of the Trump administration’s continuing attacks on the reproductive rights of all women, and now, especially immigrant teens.

We are all Jane Doe. We will not stop fighting.

Natasha Piñon is an Editorial Intern at Ms. and a junior at the University of Southern California, where she studies political science and journalism. She also writes for The Daily Trojan.

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