In March 2017, the Trump administration began a policy of denying abortion to undocumented minors in its custody. Immigrant girls fought the government in court for the right to terminate their pregnancies. This is their story.

This article is part three of a series. See parts one and two for context.

In part one of this series, I told the story of Jane Doe. In part two, I did the same for Jane Roe, Poe, and Moe. But these were not the only girls to suffer under the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s abortion-denying policy. In this article, I will share the experiences of the girls without Jane names.


As director of ORR, Scott Lloyd implemented a variety of measures to discourage and prevent girls in his custody from getting abortions. These included:

  • Preventing pregnant minors from traveling to abortion appointments, even if they had a judicial bypass.
  • Forcing minors seeking abortions to visit crisis pregnancy centers, anti-abortion organizations that try to convince women to not get abortions, and undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds.
  • Forcing minors seeking abortions to inform their families about their pregnancies and desire to terminate, or else ORR or shelter staff would do so for them.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, at least 11 minors were subjected to ORR’s coercive tactics. In addition to the four Janes discussed in the previous articles in this series, court documents discuss the experiences of several other girls.

In August 2017, a pregnant unaccompanied minor who had requested an abortion while residing at a shelter in Arizona was taken to a crisis pregnancy center and given “spiritual counseling.” An email to ORR leadership claims she was offered the counseling and agreed to it, but given that she was seeking an abortion it is unlikely she would have agreed to receive anti-abortion counseling if she knew that was what it would really be. Additionally, she was made to participate in a “family session” in which her mother was informed of her pregnancy and desire for termination, despite the minor having expressed that she did not want her family to be notified.

Around September 2017, a pregnant minor at a shelter in California who was contemplating termination was sent for counseling at a Christian crisis pregnancy center, despite having indicated that she did not want to receive Christian services. Lloyd instructed staff at the shelter where she was being held to tell her parents about her pregnancy, despite the fact that she had refused to tell them herself and had not given consent for the staff to do so.

In October 2017, a pregnant minor in Texas had requested an abortion. Lloyd instructed she be taken for “options counseling” at a crisis pregnancy center. He also instructed that either she or the staff of the shelter where she was being held notify her parents of her pregnancy and desire to terminate, regardless of her wishes.

Lloyd even instructed shelter staff to inform minors’ families of their pregnancies and decisions to terminate in cases where such disclosures could lead to abuse. In addition to Jane Doe and Jane Poe, there was a girl in an Arizona shelter who obtained a judicial bypass because she was worried that if her parents found out about her abortion, her father would “retaliate” against her mother. She also feared if her potential sponsor (her brother) was told about the abortion, he would likely tell her father, putting her mother at risk of future retaliation. 

However, contrary to the girl’s wishes, the recommendation of her Child Advocate and both Arizona and federal law, ORR instructed shelter staff to tell her mother about the abortion. The staff were also instructed to tell the girl that, if she still wished to be sponsored by her brother, he would be told about the abortion as well. They did this knowing it could jeopardize her sponsorship.

When Johnathon White, ORR’s then-deputy director for children’s services, was asked in deposition if, given his background as a social worker, he thought it would be wise to notify a minor’s parents of her abortion decision against her wishes, he said no because it could create “additional harm or risk.”

On at least one occasion, Lloyd personally spoke on the phone to a minor seeking an abortion in order to “[give] her information about her various options regarding pregnancy.” In an email chain that appears to discuss this minor, Lloyd writes that “the unborn child is a child in our care.” He notes that the girl had mentioned suicide and her clinician described her demeanor as “obnoxious” and “sad.” He instructs that the clinician should “work to identify any pressures that might be leading her to desire termination.”

He also instructs that she be taken to a crisis pregnancy center for “options counseling” and ultrasound and that she be offered “spiritual counseling.” He further instructs that if the minor still requests an abortion after options counseling and if the ultrasound shows the pregnancy is still early enough to be legally terminated, the minor would have to get consent from her parents to legally terminate. This would require both options counseling with them and a signed and notarized declaration of consent. However, Lloyd later noted in another minor’s case that even a parental consent declaration would not guarantee that he would give approval for a minor to get an abortion. 

Regarding the first minor, Lloyd also instructs that she “should not be meeting with an attorney regarding her termination or otherwise pursuing a judicial bypass at this point.”

Later in the email chain, Lloyd appears to mention that, although the minor is otherwise ready to be released, the shelter she is being held at is keeping her in its custody until she receives counseling at a crisis pregnancy center.

On another occasion, Lloyd spoke to a pregnant minor in person. In deposition, he claimed she had already decided to keep the pregnancy when he visited her, but Johnathon White said in deposition that she was still considering abortion. 

Lloyd seemed to take a special interest in this minor. In an email he sent after the visit, Lloyd requested the girl be given food from her home country, as well as a better mattress. He also wrote, “If things get dicey with [the girl’s] sponsor, I know a few good families with a heart for these situations who would take her in in a heartbeat and see her through her pregnancy and beyond.”

In the same email, Lloyd discussed a minor who had already had an abortion. He instructed the shelter staff to “have her clinician keep a close eye on her” since “often these girls start to regret abortion.”


However, none of these instances compare to what is potentially the worst case of all:

Shortly before Lloyd took over as director of ORR, acting Director Kenneth Tota instructed that a minor who had begun a medication abortion should not be allowed to take the second of the two pills and should instead be taken to an emergency room to “determine the health status of the [minor] and her unborn child.” Lloyd, then a member of Trump’s transition team, was involved in the decision as well. 

When the minor was taken to an emergency room, a fetal heartbeat was detected. Lloyd was involved in discussions of using the hormone progesterone to “reverse” the abortion. Some abortion opponents claim it is possible to reverse a medication abortion if the woman does not take the second pill and instead takes progesterone, but this has not been scientifically proven to work, and the American Medical Association has warned that abortion reversal is an “experimental and unethical treatment.” 

In fact, a study of abortion reversal was stopped early in 2019 due to safety concerns after three of the participants required ambulance transport to a hospital for treatment of severe vaginal bleeding. In their paper, the researchers warn that “patients in early pregnancy who use only [the first pill] may be at high risk of significant hemorrhage.”

Fortunately, ORR ultimately allowed the girl to take the second pill, but that doesn’t change the fact that they delayed the completion of the abortion and considered subjecting her to an untested and potentially dangerous treatment. 

Furthermore, when the girl was taken to the emergency room, she was given a gynecological exam. 

“That was not a necessary medical examination,” Susan Hays, an attorney familiar with the case, told Houston Public Media. “It was not one she could have possibly consented to, because she wasn’t told the purpose.”

“A medical exam without consent is assault,” Hays said. “A gynecological exam without consent is rape.”

All of this goes to show the lengths ORR has gone to in attempts to coerce girls in its custody into keeping unwanted pregnancies.

Read also:
How The Trump Administration Tried to Force Immigrant Girls to Give Birth – Part One
How The Trump Administration Tried to Force Immigrant Girls to Give Birth – Part Two
Female Doctors Clap Back At A Ruthless Study On Their Bodies