Cruel forced pregnancy for rape victims

Cruel forced pregnancy for rape victims

by digby

Here's the story of the lovely Trump appointee who is stopping desperate young rape victims from getting abortions:

Scott Lloyd’s unadorned job title betrays little hint of the power he has over the pregnant teenagers in his custody.

As director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, he oversees the assistance program for the tens of thousands of refugees who still seek shelter in the United States, even with the Trump administration’s crackdown. But as the government official who is also responsible for the care of young, undocumented immigrants who enter the United States without their parents, he spends much of his time trying to stop those who want an abortion.

He has instructed his staff to give him a spreadsheet each week that tells him about any unaccompanied minors who have asked for one and how far along they are in their pregnancy. In at least one case he directed staff to read to one girl a description of what happens during an abortion. And when there’s a need for counseling, Mr. Lloyd’s office calls on someone from its list of preferred “life affirming” pregnancy resource centers.

Last fall Mr. Lloyd’s refusal to let a 17-year-old in Texas leave the shelter where she was living to get an abortion drew an admonishment from a federal judge who said she was “astounded” the government had been so insistent on keeping someone from obtaining a constitutionally protected procedure. Last week another judge barred him from trying to prevent any girl in his care from getting an abortion, but government lawyers have asked for a stay and plan to appeal.

How Mr. Lloyd, an appointee of President Trump, turned a small office in the Department of Health and Human Services that provides social services to refugees into a battleground over abortion rights is part of the larger story of the Trump administration’s push to enact rules that favor socially conservative positions on issues like abortion, contraception and gay, lesbian and transgender rights.

Unlike some traditional Republicans, many religious conservatives eagerly sought jobs in the administration and the chance to shape policy after eight years of a Democratic president. This was especially true at H.H.S., where the senior ranks are staffed with former activists who have built careers advancing socially conservative causes.

Some of those hires at H.H.S. include a deputy general counsel who was a lawyerwith the Alliance Defending Freedom, a well-funded conservative legal group that opposes gay rights and abortion and fought the Obama administration’s contraception coverage requirements; the chief of staff to the assistant secretary for health, who used to lead an abstinence advocacy group; and the head of the department’s Office for Civil Rights, whose work at the Heritage Foundation involved promoting religious freedom initiatives.

After a relatively slow start as key personnel were put in place, the department has been responsible for a flurry of new policies. It has told states that they no longer have to follow Obama-era rules that made it difficult to withhold Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood. It has announced the creation of an entity inside its Office for Civil Rights called the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, which will respond to alleged violations of conscience and religious protections. And its new strategic plan commits the department to “protecting Americans at every stage of life, from conception.”

The result, activists on both sides of the fight say, is that no White House has been as aggressive in shaping policy in a way that hews so closely to the priorities of the religious right.

“Times are changing,” said Roger Severino, the head of the Office for Civil Rights, as he announced the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division this year. “And we are institutionalizing a change in the culture of government, beginning with H.H.S.”

Unlike previous Republican administrations, when it was Congress or the Supreme Court that initiated the biggest changes to abortion law, many of the most significant developments today are occurring at the agency level, largely out of public view. And that troubles liberal advocates like the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued Mr. Lloyd and won several times.

“There’s much more action at the federal level under Trump than there has been with other administrations,” said Jennifer Dalven, the director of the A.C.L.U.’s Reproductive Freedom Project.
The Administration for Children and Families at H.H.S., which oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement, said in a statement that as the legal guardian for the minors, Mr. Lloyd’s office is required by law to act with the girls’ interests in mind. And the Trump administration has determined, the statement added, that “the best interests of illegal immigrant children in our care include the protection of mothers and their babies in our facilities, and we will defend human dignity for all in our care.”

Mr. Lloyd has taken the position that as unauthorized immigrants, the girls are not entitled to the same constitutional protections as citizens. Under questioning from an A.C.L.U. lawyer during a deposition, he said he did not know of any set of circumstances that would cause him to grant an abortion request, though he said that if a girl’s life were in danger that could “potentially” sway him. He has denied at least one request for an abortion from a girl who said she had been raped.

Anti-abortion groups have welcomed his defiance as a hopeful sign. And they echo what H.H.S. officials have said themselves: A new culture is taking hold inside the Trump administration.

The good news is that he's a populist who cares about the average person so that's good. No need to worry that his government might actually be the most authoritarian in American history.