U.S. Official in Case of Raped Illegal Immigrant Teen Who Sought Abortion: The Solution to Violence Isn’t More Violence

WASHINGTON — The director of the Administration for Children and Families under the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) stated in a memo this week that he declined to authorize an abortion for an illegal immigrant teenager who was raped because it is doubtful that one can “cure violence with further violence.”

“I am mindful that abortion is offered by some as a solution to a rape. In fact, some would suggest that, by declining to assist in the abortion we are in some way engaging in a form of violence against the mother, as in the notion that ORR is forcing her to carry her pregnancy to term. I disagree,” wrote Scott Lloyd in a note dated Dec. 17.

“Implicit here are the dubious notions that it is possible to cure violence with further violence, and that the destruction of an unborn child’s life can in some instances be acceptable as a means to an end,” he declared.

Lloyd was writing in regard to the 17-year-old only identified as Jane Poe (or J.P.) in legal documents filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The liberal organization took the ORR to court this month in an effort to force the Trump administration to allow the illegal immigrant teen—as well as another girl—to obtain an abortion. The girl was believed to be 22 weeks pregnant (five and a half months).

In a note filed with the court, Lloyd outlined the various reasons that he believed abortion is not the solution to the crime committed against the teen, and that he was not going to stain his hands by being a part of it. He also noted that the baby would mostly likely undergo a D&E abortion, in which he or she is ripped limb from limb and bleeds to death.

“To decline to assist in an abortion here is to decline to participate in violence against an innocent life,” he wrote. “She remains pregnant, but this is not the intent of our actions. Moral and criminal responsibility for the pregnancy lies with the attacker, and no one else. Others might suggest that abortion is justified as a form of self-defense in this instance, but this gets it wrong again. The child—the one who is destroyed—is not an aggressor. The aggressor, again, was the rapist.”

“Refuge is the basis of our name and is at the core of what we provide, and we provide this to all the minors in our care, including their unborn children, every day. In this request, we are being asked to participate in killing a human being in our care. I cannot direct the program to proceed in this manner,” Lloyd, a Roman Catholic, declared. “We cannot be a place of refuge while we are at the same time a place of violence. We have to choose, and we ought to choose protect life rather than to destroy it.”

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Read the note in full here. (Scroll past the redacted pages to page 5.)

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered ORR to allow the abortion to proceed. The attorneys representing the government chose not to appeal the matter, and also later transferred another girl that was part of the legal action to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement as it was found that the teen was actually 19 and not 17 as she had claimed.

The Trump administration has also appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in regard to another abortion decision from October, as it asserts that the ACLU had been misleading as to when the abortion would take place, which prevented the government from filing an appeal in time.

“The ACLU misled the United States as to the timing of Jane Doe’s abortion,” U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley told the New York Times.

“After informing Justice Department attorneys that the procedure would occur on October 26th, Jane Doe’s attorneys scheduled the abortion for the early morning hours of October 25th, thereby thwarting Supreme Court review,” he explained. “In light of that, the Justice Department believes the judgment under review should be vacated, and discipline may be warranted against Jane Doe’s attorneys.”

The ACLU has denied any wrongdoing.

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