A Trump administration official known for his staunch opposition to abortion has been revealed as having once driven a woman he slept with to receive one.
On Wednesday, Mother Jones reported on a document its staff obtained in which the director for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Scott Lloyd, admits to bringing a woman he impregnated to get an abortion and paying for half the cost. Lloyd recounted the experience in a six-page paper he wrote in his first year as a Catholic University law student in 2004.
In the essay, Lloyd writes that the woman's choice to have the abortion went against his personal beliefs, and that he tried to convince her to carry the pregnancy to term and put the child up for adoption. The day of the woman's appointment, Lloyd remembers picking her up with the belief that he could still persuade her not to go through with the abortion.
"On the way there, I gave her the money, mostly in ones, for two reasons: 1) if I didn’t, I would be the enemy and she would stop listening to me and 2) because if she went through with it, I didn’t want to leave thinking it wasn’t my fault," Lloyd wrote. "Both were stupid reasons. In the parking lot we argued one last time."
Lloyd waited for the woman in the clinic's lobby during the procedure. The experience, he wrote, hadn't changed his stance on abortion; rather, it affirmed it.
“The truth about abortion is that my first child is dead, and no woman, man, Supreme Court, or government—NOBODY—has the right to tell me that she doesn’t belong here," Lloyd wrote.
In a statement to Broadly, a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wrote: "Mr. Lloyd has testified publicly to his personal and religious beliefs regarding abortion, and explained he does not let his religion guide his job as ORR director. Mr. Lloyd is committed to the mission of the agency, and his concern and compassion for those who come into the care of ORR.”
As ORR director, Lloyd has the ability to impose his own ideological beliefs on abortion as federal rule.Lloyd has attempted to block multiple undocumented immigrant teens in federal custody from terminating unwanted pregnancies, arguing that their immigration status precludes them from claiming a constitutional right to abortion. In the most egregious case, Lloyd refused to approve an abortion for an immigrant teen who said her pregnancy resulted from rape, flying in the face of Bush- and Obama-era policies that allowed federal funds to go toward the abortions of immigrant rape victims. Lloyd believed having an abortion would cause the teenager "additional trauma."
“I cannot authorize our program to participate in the abortion requested here, even in this most difficult case,” Lloyd wrote in a December document. “It is possible, and perhaps likely, that this young woman would go on to experience an abortion as an additional trauma on top of the trauma she experiences as a result of her sexual assault. A federal court later overruled Lloyd's guidance after the American Civil Liberties Union brought lawsuits against the Trump administration defending the immigrant minors.
Lloyd's law school peers were struck by his essay at the time, which more than one of them described as an abortion "manifesto" in interviews with Mother Jones. In 2018, they see Lloyd's personal experience with abortion as the impetus for his current—and some say extreme—anti-choice views.
"This thing was sort of unbelievable,” one of Lloyd's classmates told Mother Jones, explaining their decision to hold onto a copy of Lloyd's essay, which they provided to the outlet. “[Lloyd has] become this sort of crusader toward overturning a woman’s right to choose—based on his experience with getting a girl pregnant. I was like, ‘I need to have a record of this.'”
The paper also includes Lloyd comparing abortion to the Holocaust, an analogy he knew some found "distasteful." "The Jews who died in the Holocaust had a chance to laugh, play, sing, dance, learn, and love each other," he reasoned. "The victims of abortion do not, simply because people have decided this is the way it should be, not through any proper discernment of their humanity."
Ultimately, Lloyd argues, the cause for what he sees as the moral and societal problem of abortion boils down to women's own reckless behavior. “If a woman needs to defend so fiercely the 'one thing they can call their own—their body,'" Lloyd wrote, "then they shouldn’t be so careless with it as to have sex when they are not ready to be pregnant.”