FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 23, 2018
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NEW YORK—Today, the de Blasio Administration denounced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement's (ORR) attempts to inhibit access to constitutionally mandated health care for unaccompanied immigrant children in federal custody. In a letter to Director E. Scott Lloyd, City leaders noted their opposition to ORR's policy to deny access to abortions for these unaccompanied immigrant children, even in cases of rape. This letter comes after several reports of the Trump Administration refusing care for detained unaccompanied minors, including one as recently as this month. The City demands that ORR abandon its policy of withholding health care services to children. Instead, they must guarantee these immigrant girls their constitutionally protected access to abortion services.
While enforcement of ORR's new policy has been enjoined by federal courts in several individual cases, the Trump Administration must affirmatively commit to ending this policy. There are six ORR-contracted shelters in New York City that house unaccompanied minors until they can find placement with sponsors, with 250 beds combined. All New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay, have access to health care in New York City through our public health facilities. City officials demand that ORR respect the rights of immigrant girls.
First Lady Chirlane McCray said, "To President Trump and your entire Administration: keep your politics out of our health care. No girl or woman should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against her will. Refusing detained immigrant youth—many of whom have already suffered unspeakable trauma—access to the health care they need is a clear violation of their rights with serious consequences for their physical and mental well-being. Our leaders in Washington should value and protect these fundamental rights."
"Immigration status shouldn't dictate whether a woman has the right to make decisions about her own healthcare," said Bitta Mostofi, Acting Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. "This month there were reports of a fourth unaccompanied minor in federal custody who was refused access to abortion services by the Trump Administration. E. Scott Lloyd and his collaborators in the Trump White House should be held to account for this affront to women's rights, immigrants' rights, and the rights of those in detention. We need the U.S. Department of Health to do its job and uphold the basic right to healthcare access for everyone in this country, instead of systematically denying it."
"Regardless of their immigration status, young people must have access to high-quality health care, which includes abortion," said Commissioner David A. Hansell, Administration for Children's Services. "We continue to see appalling cases of young women who are being denied the ability to make deeply personal medical decisions because of the Trump Administration's unlawful and inhumane immigration policies. The Trump Administration must reverse these policies immediately."
"While immigration reform and abortion may be at the center of ideological debates, abortion is fundamentally a health care service and one that is critical to women's and families' reproductive health," said Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. "A patient's right to medically accurate, unbiased information and access to a safe abortion should not be infringed upon, for these are critical to a patient's ability to make personal health care decisions. All women, regardless of immigration status, have the right to make informed choices about their reproductive health and act on those choices by receiving accurate information and access to a safe abortion. We must guard against actions that stand between women and their ability to access this service."