One of the undocumented teenagers who took the Trump administration to court in order to get an abortion was pregnant due to rape, an internal administration document released Tuesday shows.
Scott Lloyd, the head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, used the document to outline why he decided the teen shouldn’t have an abortion. The office oversees all minors who enter the United States without authorization.
In the document, Lloyd asserts that abortion involves “violence that has the ultimate destruction of another human being as its goal.”
“How could abortion be in their best interest where other options are available, and where the child might even survive outside the womb at this stage of pregnancy?” Lloyd writes. “Here there is no medical reason for abortion, it will not undo or erase the memory of the violence committed against her, and it may further traumatize her. I conclude it is not in her interest.”
This conclusion is particularly unusual in light of the revelation that Jane Poe, as the teen is known in court records, was sexually assaulted. Under past administrations, former Office of Refugee Resettlement Director Bob Carey told VICE News, if a minor was raped and sought an abortion while in federal custody, the government was not only required to allow her to seek it — it had to pay for it.
According to the document, Poe was sexually assaulted in her home country, which is not being publicly disclosed. She asked for an abortion after entering the United States and learning she was pregnant, according to the document, though she later took that request back. She said her mother and potential sponsor would “beat” her if she got the procedure.
Ultimately, however, Poe decided she did want an abortion. On Friday, Poe and another pregnant teenager in federal custody filed court documents alleging the Trump administration was trying to block them from getting abortions.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration agreed to dismiss its request to hold off on the teens’ abortions, which allows both to get the procedure.
The legal fight, however, is far from over. The first several pages of the document remain redacted from public view, as the Trump administration contends that they are subject to “privilege.” (That protection, which exempts certain government documents from public disclosure, enables government employees to write more freely.)
The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented both Poe and two other teens who took the Trump administration to court in order to secure abortions, intends to continue to ask the judge to unseal it.
“This story continues to get more unreal. This latest revelation exposes the Trump administration's extreme anti-abortion ideology: It seeks to force women to continue pregnancies against their will,” Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement.
The Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.