On Thursday, the United States government took measures to ensure that pregnant migrant youths who are in its custody but are not accompanied by their parents can access abortion services. These youths were assigned to shelters in states that still allow the procedure.
According to the written instructions issued by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, pregnant migrant minors who seek an abortion should also be granted transportation, if required, from places such as Texas, where abortion is widely illegal, to a state where it is permitted.
After the Supreme Court in June overturned the nationwide right to abortion access, the Biden administration has implemented new policies. The new policy guideline, according to pro-choice advocates, is in line with court rulings that limited attempts to deny abortions to migrant children under the Trump administration.
According to the updated policy, government employees and contractors who oppose abortion on the basis of their religious beliefs are exempt from the obligation to help provide access to abortion services; nonetheless, they are expected to report any pregnant migrant minors to the authorities.
The American Civil Liberties Union has argued that this decision is crucial because it would allow young unaccompanied migrants to have access to health treatment while they escape violence, including sexual assault. People who are traveling through Mexico and Central America often have to deal with extortion and sexual assault.
“We applaud the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s decision to place pregnant unaccompanied immigrant youth in states where they can access the full range of health care they may need, including abortion,” said Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, in a statement Thursday.
The refugee office, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is in charge of monitoring unaccompanied minors who are found on their way to the United States.