A government official tracking the pregnancies and menstrual cycles of teenage girls in custody? It seems like a scene out of The Handmaid’s Tale, but it’s happened in the United States Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) as recently as June 2018. Enter the former director of ORR Scott Lloyd, the newest villain in this episode of “Trump’s America.” A new report from Rachel Maddow reveals the rumored spreadsheet that Lloyd used for months to track pregnant migrant girls ages 12-17 in ORR custody in attempts to prevent them from getting an abortion.
Scott Lloyd was highly unqualified for his position at ORR at the outset, having never worked with refugees or resettlement before. What the office gave him though was the opportunity to continue the Trump Administration’s attack on reproductive rights and exercise his obsession with abortion. It’s clear that the litmus test for an influential position in the Trump Administration is an anti-reproductive rights agenda. As part of his previous job at the Catholic Knights of Columbus, Lloyd demonstrated this by pushing his extreme anti-abortion and anti-contraception views. In law school, he wrote radical papers equating abortion with the Holocaust, much to the dismay of his classmates.
Last year, Lloyd made headlines across the country for personally preventing a 17-year-old pregnant migrant in ORR custody from getting an abortion. The girl, who had been raped, raised the funds to pay for the abortion, got a judge to grant her permission to get the abortion, and arranged and raised the money for travel to the doctor’s appointments. Still, Lloyd actively blocked her constitutional right to an abortion. More stories emerged of Lloyd visiting pregnant women at detention facilities and “counseling” them not to have abortions. He also had detention facility staff inform one girl’s parents that she’d had an abortion, despite her alleging that it would lead to abuse.
As a result, the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the 17-year-old and other migrant girls in ORR custody who had been blocked by Lloyd from getting the abortions they wanted. The ACLU lawsuit revealed that Lloyd had not granted a single request for an abortion in his time at ORR. Consequently, in March 2018, a judge ordered Lloyd to stop blocking women in federal custody from receiving abortions in the case Garza v. Hargan. But Lloyd didn’t stop there, as the newly released spreadsheet indicates. He continued obsessing over and monitoring the pregnancies of these young girls.
Lloyd continued tracking these pregnancies into June 2018, months after the judge ordered him to stop blocking women from obtaining an abortion. The spreadsheet tracks information like whether the pregnancy was a result of consensual sex, “gestational age,” and last menstrual cycle of some girls. It also tracks whether the girl has requested an abortion, and additional intimate personal details on each case. This is an official federal document, something that employees of ORR were working on as they were being paid federal tax dollars. To make matters worse, Lloyd lied to Congress about the existence of such a spreadsheet months ago. House lawmakers are now calling for Lloyd to testify on his comments that he was not tracking girls’ pregnancies.
Though Lloyd was demoted from his position as director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) ORR in November 2018, he still remains highly involved in HHS as senior advisor of the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives.
This gross invasion of privacy and improper procedures regarding pregnant women in detention is yet again another example of the Trump administration doing everything in its power to restrict women’s decisions regarding their reproductive health. Reproductive rights are matters of life and death for many women, but Trump would rather cater to extremists than the respect the health and constitutional rights of women.
By Elena Mieszczanski, NOW Government Relations Intern