Pregnant immigrant minors are being sent to anti-abortion clinics, commonly known as crisis pregnancy centers, despite a federal judge ordering that Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) stop blocking minors in government custody from accessing full reproductive health services.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a court case against the ORR in late 2017, representing Jane Doe, an accompanied immigrant minor who was one of many teens who Scott Lloyd, ORR director, tried to prevent from having an abortion. As a result of that case a federal judge ordered the ORR to require that their shelters inform teens about their right to abortion and provide them with the ACLU’s attorney hotline.
Despite these explicit orders, the ORR instructed their centers to connect immigrants to prenatal and adoption support at crisis pregnancy centers.
The ORR is requiring each shelter to share Texas’ “A Woman’s Right to Know” manual, which is essentially an anti-abortion guidebook published by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The language throughout the booklet is confusing and spreads medically inaccurate information. For example, the manual suggests that abortion increases breast cancer risks, which the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute has already deemed false.
The ACLU’s Brigitte Amiri, one of the lead attorneys fighting the ORR, responded to these gaslighting practices as an unfortunate continuation of the government’s anti-immigrant and anti-abortion agenda: “The government certainly has been relentless in their attempts to find ways to force their anti-abortion beliefs on this population, and I feel like this is just another iteration of what they’ve done in the past.” Commenting on the Texas manual, Amiri affirms that it undermines the court ruling and is “incredibly confusing to this population that is already so marginalized and isolated.”
In addition to not providing teens with medically accurate information about their pregnancy options, the ORR is purposefully sending teens to crisis pregnancy centers, which are religiously affiliated centers disguised as medical centers which use scare tactics to intimate women out of their decision to have an abortion. One of the CPCs which immigrants are sent to in Texas is Sisters of Life, which has explicitly vowed to “protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.” The ACLU notes that they refer to abortion as a “tragedy” and an “unforgivable sin.”
Earlier this year, Planned Parenthood, and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, among other leading organizations called for the removal of Scott Lloyd. The Office of Refugee Resettlement, under Scott Lloyd’s control, is actively denying young immigrant women their reproductive rights. By ignoring a federal court order through manipulation and fraud, the ORR is proving once again that extremism under Trump’s administration prevails over people’s human rights.
Image Credit: ACLU
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