Oct. 20, 2017 – Today, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman sent a letter to Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Director E. Scott Lloyd, making clear that the Trump administration’s attempts to block reproductive health care for a 17-year-old unaccompanied minor detainee is unconstitutional. The letter follows oral argument this morning in Garza v. Hargan, in which the ACLU is representing the 17-year-old woman in challenging the Trump administration’s policy.
“Just this morning, at oral argument in the D.C. Circuit, the federal government continued to refuse to permit this teen to exercise her fundamental constitutional rights, highlighting the absurdity of this horrifying and inhumane policy,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I want to be clear: all women, including unaccompanied minors, have constitutionally-guaranteed reproductive rights, and I will use the full force of my office to ensure they’re protected in New York.”
“Unaccompanied minors who arrive in the United States often are fleeing threats to their life and safety in their countries of origin. Some of them may be victims of sexual assault or abuse, or have significant medical issues. They are legally entitled to access to adequate medical care, including abortion services, while in U.S. custody,” Attorney General Schneiderman wrote today to Lloyd.
Lloyd, a virulently anti-choice activist, was appointed by President Trump to lead ORR. “Even more troubling, it appears you have gone so far as to intervene personally in these children’s health care decisions, contacting them directly in an effort to intimidate them into unwillingly carrying their pregnancies to term. Unaccompanied pregnant minors escaping difficult circumstances in their home countries require medical care from trained doctors and clinicians; you have no qualifications and, as Director of a $2 billion agency with thousands of staff throughout the nation, no appropriate role in these individual medical decisions,” Attorney General Schneiderman continued in the letter.
Newly revealed documents demonstrate that the Trump administration’s conduct may be occurring nationwide, including in New York. An approved list of anti-choice centers that unaccompanied minors are allegedly pushed by ORR to attend before they are able to obtain an abortion includes centers across New York, including on Long Island and in New York City.
“This conduct is unconstitutional, it is inhumane, and it is abhorrent…. Please be advised that my office will not hesitate to use all of its powers to protect the constitutional rights of unaccompanied minors in New York, and to ensure that ORR ceases executing this radical and unlawful policy,” Attorney General Schneiderman concludes.