Feinstein in the News

By Carter Sherman

Originally published in Vice News.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein added her voice Wednesday to the growing chorus calling for the resignation of Scott Lloyd, the Trump administration official who’s become the face of the administration’s ongoing legal battle over undocumented teens’ ability to access abortion while in federal custody.

“I've called for Scott Lloyd to resign as head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement,” Feinstein, a California Democrat, tweeted. “He has used his official office to block vulnerable young women from accessing medical care. That’s unacceptable!”

Lloyd is a longtime anti-abortion advocate and the head of ORR, which takes care of all minors who enter the United States without authorization and without a parent or guardian. Four teenagers have sued the Trump administration, accusing ORR of refusing to allow them to get abortions while they were living in shelters.

As ORR’s director, Lloyd says that a 2008 policy gives him the authority to personally approve every request for an abortion. But Bob Carey, who led ORR in the Obama administration, told VICE News he didn’t interpret the policy like that. While he would sign off the use of federal funds to pay for abortions if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or if there was the pregnant teen’s life was at stake, Carey said he never approved the procedure itself.

Between March and December of 2017, seven teens requested that Lloyd allow them to get abortions, a deposition obtained exclusively by VICE News revealed last week. He didn’t approve any of their requests. He also once discussed trying to “reverse” one teen’s medication abortion, using a scientifically unproven method, while the teen was in the middle of the medical abortion.

Feinstein is likely the highest-profile official to call for Lloyd’s resignation, but she isn’t the first. The leaders of the House Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, called for Lloyd’s ouster in February, and Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray said last week that Lloyd should resign. She tweeted, “As a woman, a mother, and a grandmother, I am deeply concerned for the young women entrusted to the ORR under Scott Lloyd’s leadership.”

Several advocacy groups, including NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Women’s Law Center, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, have called for Lloyd’s resignation or for the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to fire him.

ORR says that no teenager has had to carry her pregnancy to term as a result of Lloyd’s refusal to approve her abortion. Each of the four teens who went to court against the Trump administration were eventually allowed to get the procedure.