Pro-Choice Caucus Leaders Call on Secretary Azar to Fire Director Lloyd Due to His Ongoing, Blatant Disregard for Women’s Constitutional Rights
Washington, DC – After revelations today by the Washington Post about continued unlawful behavior by Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement Scott Lloyd, who has ignored the constitution and federal rules regarding women’s rights and reproductive health, the co-chairs of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, Congresswomen Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY), called on Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar to fire him.
In a letter to Secretary Azar, the caucus chairs noted that Lloyd had recently intervened in at least four cases to try to deny immigrant teens – one of whom had been raped – access to abortion services. Federal courts found Lloyd’s efforts to block this reproductive care unlawful. The Washington Post found that lawyers for ORR may be prohibited from communicating with their clients about abortion rights.
“Throughout Mr. Lloyd’s tenure at ORR, he has abused the powers and privileges of his office to intimidate young women and deny them their constitutional rights,” the two lawmakers wrote in their letter. “His repeated decisions to impose his extreme ideology on women and girls in defiance of federal law makes him unfit to serve in the federal government.”
DeGette and Slaughter had previously raised objections to Lloyd’s behavior based on earlier news accounts and information directly from HHS about these cases, and had called on the House Judiciary Committee to subpoena Lloyd and other witnesses for questioning.
The full text of the letter is here and below:
February 15, 2018
Secretary Alex Azar
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Secretary Azar,
We write today to demand Scott Lloyd’s immediate termination as the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). We are deeply disturbed by the Trump Administration’s constant willingness to ignore and bend the rules when it comes to women’s rights and reproductive health. Throughout Mr. Lloyd’s tenure at ORR, he has abused the powers and privileges of his office to intimidate young women and deny them their constitutional rights. His repeated decisions to impose his extreme ideology on women and girls in defiance of federal law makes him unfit to serve in the federal government.
The public is aware of at least four immigrant teens to whom Mr. Lloyd personally denied access to abortion services, sometimes even over the objections of other staff within ORR. One of those young women was a victim of rape. Thankfully, the federal courts found his efforts to obstruct their access to care unlawful. We fear, however, for other similarly situated women that the courts are not aware of whose bodies and decisions Mr. Lloyd is still trying to control.
The latest revelation that lawyers who receive federal funding may be prohibited by HHS from discussing abortion rights with these women suggests an ongoing, complete disregard for the rule of law. Based on their conversations with HHS employees, these lawyers are under the impression that such restrictions on communication with their clients are of the “utmost import” to Mr. Lloyd in his capacity as ORR Director. Furthermore, as a lawyer yourself, you should understand the almost sacred significance of attorney-client communication in our judicial system. Lawyers must be able to communicate openly with their clients about their rights. Immigrants in detention rely on their lawyers for honest advice and help in navigating difficult and often frightening situations. Any efforts to disrupt these relationships run contrary to hundreds of years of American legal tradition.
ORR’s mission is to “foster health and well-being by providing federal leadership, partnership and resources for the compassionate and effective delivery of human services.” Mr. Lloyd, through his treatment of women under his care, has utterly failed to carry out his office’s mission and fulfill the oath he took as a government employee to uphold the U.S. Constitution. We therefore ask that you ensure Mr. Lloyd immediately steps down so someone fit to carryout ORR’s important duties can assume his role.