Amid the chaos and devastation caused by the U.S. Supreme Court’s gutting of the constitutional right to abortion, the Biden administration has stepped up efforts to protect access to abortion for young immigrant women. pregnant unaccompanied. On November 10, 2022, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) announced new guidelines to ensure that unaccompanied immigrant minors have access to abortions at ORR shelters pending reunification with family in the United States. United. The policy requires ORR to place pregnant immigrant youth in shelters in states where abortion has not been banned, but if a minor is placed in a shelter in a state with restrictive abortion laws and requests an abortion, the policy requires prompt transfer to another state. to access this care.
This new policy is an essential step in protecting the health and well-being of this marginalized population. The ORR is the government authority responsible for dealing with unaccompanied immigrant minors who are detained after crossing the border to reunite with their families in the United States and seek a better and safer life. Unfortunately, many of these young people are victims of sexual assault in their home country or on the perilous journey to the United States, and some may enter ORR custody pregnant. This policy will help ensure that any pregnant minor can access prompt and confidential abortion care, if she feels it is the right decision for herself and her future. Pregnant immigrant minors deserve to have their bodily autonomy respected, including when they are detained by the government.
This guidance is crucial in the disparate new abortion landscape in the United States and builds on earlier policy won during a years-long legal battle to ensure access to abortion for minors detained by ORR. In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of pregnant immigrant minors seeking abortions, sued the Trump administration for banning abortions for unaccompanied minors by banning them from leaving US shelters. ‘ORR to get abortion-related care. This lawsuit guaranteed the ability of these minors to access abortions and concluded when the Trump administration formally abandoned this draconian policy following a settlement agreement that barred ORR staff and shelters to block or interfere with unaccompanied pregnant minors’ access to abortion. The new 2022 policy builds on our settlement agreement and makes it clear that a minor in ORR’s care should be able to access all reproductive health care, just as they could access any other medical procedure. .
Critically important is ORR’s decision to place unaccompanied pregnant immigrant youth in states where they can access the full range of health care they may need, including abortion. Abortion bans not only prohibit access to abortion itself, but can also affect miscarriage care or emergency care that a pregnant minor may need. As the ACLU fights for a future where unaccompanied immigrant youth are not detained by the government, we commend ORR for strengthening its abortion access policy, and we call on this administration and the future to vigorously apply this policy.
The Biden administration must also strengthen its reproductive health care policies for other government detainees, including the Bureau of Prisons, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection. Abortion is essential health care, and access to it should not depend on your immigration status, incarceration, or state. As we fight to restore access to abortion in states across the country, we take a moment to celebrate. New policy. Everyone should be able to access reproductive health care, including abortion, without barriers, shame or stigma.
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