The New York Times tends to occasionally get itself into a fit of consternation over anyone on the right who expresses or acts on a belief that is anywhere to the right of Shirley Chisholm’s.
This week’s target? A top official in the Department of Health and Human Services, Scott Lloyd. Lloyd is the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which acts as a legal guardian for “young, undocumented immigrants who enter the United States without their parents” looking for asylum.
In that position, The Times’ Jeremy W. Peters adjudges, “he spends much of his time trying to stop those who want an abortion.”
“While anti-abortion work has been his passion, Mr. Lloyd’s job as director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement entails broad responsibilities for helping people of all ages who are trying to resettle in the United States with financial, medical and other assistance,” Peters wrote in a piece published Thursday.
“That undocumented minors have been caught up in his personal quest to fight abortion is something of a bureaucratic quirk. Minors are under the care of his office; the placement of adult refugees is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security.
“The Administration for Children and Families at HHS, which oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement, said in a statement that as the legal guardian for the minors, Mr. Lloyd’s office is required by law to act with the girls’ interests in mind. And the Trump administration has determined, the statement added, that ‘the best interests of illegal immigrant children in our care include the protection of mothers and their babies in our facilities, and we will defend human dignity for all in our care.’”
The evidence for the intimation that Lloyd is an unqualified anti-abortion zealot is that he came to the position from the Knights of Columbus and previously served on the board of a pregnancy crisis center, as well as listing that he was the “architect” of a piece of legislation banning late-term abortion that has been used in several states.
Curiously unmentioned in the article is Lloyd’s previous experience with HHS, on the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources, as well as in private practice. That doesn’t prove the point that “anti-abortion work has been (Lloyd’s) passion,” however, so Peters decided to leave it out.
The controversy involves a lawsuit over several minors who arrived seeking asylum in the United States that have been denied abortions by Lloyd’s office.
“He has instructed his staff to give him a spreadsheet each week that tells him about any unaccompanied minors who have asked for one and how far along they are in their pregnancy,” Peters wrote.
“In at least one case he directed staff to read to one girl a description of what happens during an abortion. And when there’s a need for counseling, Mr. Lloyd’s office calls on someone from its list of preferred ‘life affirming’ pregnancy resource centers.”
This apparently qualifies as spending much of his time on the issue of abortion. This also caused the ACLU to file suit against the HHS for preventing a teenager in their care in Texas from getting an abortion.
Texas law requires minors to get parental consent or a court waiver to obtain an abortion; while she obtained a waiver, the HHS argued that her immigration status at the time didn’t necessarily entail her to the right to an abortion without their consent inside the United States. A federal appeals court eventually allowed the minor, known as Jane Doe, to abort the unborn child.
However, Lloyd has stood firm in other cases — and it isn’t just him. Asked by a Democrat when he would fire Lloyd during congressional testimony, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said it was a policy of the administration.
“This is simply not an issue of Mr. Lloyd,” Secretary Azar told Rep. Rose DeLauro, according to The Hill. “This is the statutory obligation of the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement to coordinate and improve the care of placement of these minors, including providing for serious medical services to them.”
The idea that an abortion can have long-lasting deleterious effects on the mental and physical wellbeing of the mother that a minor might not appreciate — to say nothing of the well-being of the unborn child that she is carrying — is not a novel one, except perhaps in the offices of the ACLU and the newsroom floor of The New York Times. The fact that the Office of Refugee Resettlement has a responsibility to act in loco parentis for these children, and that the secretary of this Office believes this non-novel idea, is also of great alarm to these organizations.
Given the case of Jane Doe, while Lloyd’s decision was eventually overturned by the court, he had a legal argument we have every reason to believe he thought was constitutional. We also have reason to believe that he legitimately felt that this was in the best interest of both the mother and the unborn child, which is what he’s appointed, in part, to decide.
We expect the ACLU to lash out at any government official who believed protecting the unborn was a legitimate policy goal, or that abortions can do life-long mental and physical harm to women.
However, when The New York Times covers this all under the aegis of fact and then reports it with such selectivity that it becomes unvarnished opinion, it’s easy to see why conservatives have such distrust in the media. There is something comforting, though, in knowing that the Gray Lady was, is and will always be 60-odd daily pages of opinion and sports, most of it masquerading as news.
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