09.23.22

Lankford, Colleagues Call on Becerra, HHS to Stop Illegally Promoting Abortions for Pregnant Unaccompanied Minors

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) led a letter today along with Senators Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Steve Daines (R-MT) to send a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra to share their opposition to HHS’ flagrant disregard for the law by applying “field guidance” that promotes abortion for pregnant unaccompanied alien children (UACs) in US custody, paid for by US taxpayers.

The Senators reference the use of Field Guidance #21, which they say the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) under HHS to transfer pregnant minors to ORR facilities in other states in order to go around state laws that protect unborn life.

The Senators write in their letter: “It is our understanding that these policies around transportation would require federal personnel to use federally-owned, leased, or contracted vehicles to transport pregnant unaccompanied minors to abortion clinics, wait in the parking lot during the procedure, and then drive the unaccompanied minor back to the ORR facility – all on the taxpayers’ dime… Additionally, it is our understanding that ORR facilitates the distribution of dangerous chemical abortion drugs within federal facilities. To allow vulnerable children in your care to receive dangerous chemical abortion drugs without direct medical supervision within federal facilities is not only a violation of the clear federal funding restrictions placed on ORR facilities, but also a complete dereliction of the duty to ensure the safety of children in your care.”

Lankford remains the leading pro-life voice in the Senate to stand up against the Biden Administration’s obsession with abortion, especially after the Supreme Court’s ruling to return decisions about abortions to the people’s elected representatives. The latest episode of Lankford’s podcastThe Breakdown with James Lankford, was a conversation about the pro-abortion lobby spreading false rumors about miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and what that means for the future of women’s health. Lankford and Marshall recently introduced the No Taxpayer Funds for Illegal Alien Abortions Act to prohibit any employee or contractor with US Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the HHS from transporting any illegal immigrant across state lines for the purpose of procuring an abortion.

You can read the full letter HERE and below:

Dear Secretary Becerra:

We write today to express our ardent opposition to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) disregard for the rule of law, which puts unaccompanied children, who are entrusted to the agency’s care, in danger.

The unaccompanied children who come to our border must be treated with dignity and respect. When the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) refers these children to HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) for care, US law rightly prioritizes their safety while ORR searches for placement with vetted sponsors.

Instead of providing care for each child, HHS has created and depended upon Field Guidance #21, which directs providers to promote and facilitate abortions for pregnant minors in violation of federal law. Since 1976, Congress has included the Hyde Amendment, which restricts HHS from funding elective abortion, on annual appropriations bills that fund the agency. Azar v. Garza is not license for federal staff to use taxpayer dollars, facilities, staff, and other resources to circumvent any state laws that protect life or federal prohibitions on funding abortions.

Field Guidance #21 directs ORR staff to submit requests to transfer pregnant minors to ORR facilities in other states in order to circumvent state laws that protect unborn life. The guidance even notes that ground transportation to abortion clinics in neighboring states may be most appropriate in cases where the pregnant minor is past the gestational age in which she can fly safely. We are astounded that we have to explain the horror of driving a pregnant minor, whose unborn child is well past the point of viability, to a state where a provider will perform an elective late-term abortion. Driving a pregnant minor to another state for a late-term abortion is not a legal use of taxpayer dollars.

It is our understanding that these policies around transportation would require federal personnel to use federally-owned, leased, or contracted vehicles to transport pregnant unaccompanied minors to abortion clinics, wait in the parking lot during the procedure, and then drive the unaccompanied minor back to the ORR facility – all on the taxpayers’ dime. Depending on the specific ORR facility and state laws concerning abortion, Field Guidance #21 may even require federally-funded transportation that would cross state lines, require hours-long travel, and require overnight accommodations. This is an illegal and offensive use of taxpayer dollars.

Additionally, it is our understanding that ORR facilitates the distribution of dangerous chemical abortion drugs within federal facilities. To allow vulnerable children in your care to receive dangerous chemical abortion drugs without direct medical supervision within federal facilities is not only a violation of the clear federal funding restrictions placed on ORR facilities, but also a complete dereliction of the duty to ensure the safety of children in your care. The possible side effects of self-administered chemical abortion drugs include abdominal pain, heavy bleeding, fever, infection, and incomplete abortions that require surgical intervention. No child should take these drugs, especially without a licensed doctor’s supervision.

ORR has the responsibility to ensure the safety of some of the world’s most vulnerable children. It is deeply concerning that in a time of such uncertainty and fear, they are entrusted to an agency that prioritizes its pro-abortion agenda over the health and safety of the children in its custody. A child’s referral to ORR is an opportunity to treat them with care while searching for appropriate, vetted sponsors, not an opportunity to encourage the taking of unborn life. Every life is worthy of protection, born or unborn.

We urge you to swiftly reverse these illegal and horrific policies. Further, we ask that you thoroughly respond to each of the following questions no later than October 17, 2022.

  1. How many abortions has HHS ORR facilitated for unaccompanied minors in its custody? Please include a breakdown of chemical abortions and surgical abortions and whether such abortion took place at an ORR facility.
  2. How much federal funding has HHS spent on facilitating abortions for minors including, staff time, transportation and accommodation costs? Please provide a breakdown of the costs by type.
  3. Please provide a list of all states and localities where HHS ORR has transported pregnant unaccompanied minors in order to facilitate their access to abortion.

Sincerely,

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