'Cruel and Unconstitutional': Trump Official Proposed Experimental Method to Reverse Detained Teen's Abortion

Officials at the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), including the Trump appointee now in charge of the department, reportedly suggested an experimental method to reverse a medication-induced abortion obtained by a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant in the office’s care.

According to a Vice report, current ORR director Scott Lloyd, who has written articles promoting the inclusion of anti-contraceptive efforts in the anti-choice movement, discussed with other administration staff members the use of the hormone progesterone to reverse the abortion after it was underway last March—a method that has not been proven to work, can cause side effects, and has been dismissed by the mainstream medical community as experimentation on women.

The 17-year-old girl, who was in ORR custody after arriving in the U.S. from El Salvador, reported to immigration officials that her pregnancy was the result of rape, and a Texas judge ruled that she should be permitted to have an abortion, challenging the Trump administration’s claims that the Health and Human Services Department, which oversees the ORR, does not have to facilitate abortions.

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According to a deposition given by Lloyd in the ACLU’s lawsuit fighting the Trump administration’s efforts to stop undocumented immigrants from seeking abortions, Lloyd told attorneys he and other officials “may have” discussed ways to reverse the girl’s procedure.

“The Trump administration’s cruel and unconstitutional treatment of young immigrant women knows no bounds,” said Brigitte Amiri, the lead attorney in the group’s lawsuit. “The administration forced a minor to go to an emergency room for an ultrasound in the middle of a medication abortion, and contemplated trying to ‘reverse’ the abortion through an unproven method, against the young woman’s will.”


In medication-induced abortions, patients are required to take two pills, 24 to 48 hours apart.

After taking the first of the two pills in March, the 17-year-old was taken to an emergency room “in order to determine the health status of [teenager] and her unborn child,” on orders of then-acting director of the ORR Kenneth Tota. Administration of the second pill was delayed for this purpose, even though the girl herself had sought the procedure.

During the delay, the abortion clinic providing care to the girl received an email from ORR inquiring whether the use of progesterone to reverse an abortion was “widely practiced.”

The girl was eventually able to complete the abortion within 48 hours, but the ACLU denounced the delay, caused by the office’s attempt to deny her treatment that she had a right to receive.

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