Mother Jones



EVERY SUNDAY, Scott Lloyd attends St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Front Royal, Virginia. Founded in honor of a fallen Confederate soldier, the red-brick building sits on Main Street in this picturesque town of 15,000 at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is the heart of its vibrant and devout Catholic community. Twice a week, the parish hosts a Tridentine Mass in Latin, a relic of Catholicism’s pre-1965 Vatican II order that is now eschewed by most contemporary churches. Lloyd, 39, lives on the outskirts of town in a two-story colonial with his wife, Ann—his college sweetheart—and their seven kids. That puts them in line with St. John’s congregation, whose 1,200 families, a congregant once wrote, have an average of six children each and have gone 15 years without a teen pregnancy.

For more than a year and a half, Lloyd has been commuting 70 miles to Washington, DC, where he serves the Trump administration as head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Situated within the Department of Health and Human Services, ORR is a small agency charged with helping refugees get settled in America. It also runs shelters housing detained child migrants, including some 3,000 children seized from their parents at the border in the spring of 2018. Lloyd’s bungled handling of the reunification of these kids with their families is under formal HHS review; as of this writing, 171 children are still separated from their families.

When he was appointed, Lloyd had little prior experience with refugees but a long history of working to restrict reproductive rights. Under both the Bush and Obama administrations, ORR routinely permitted undocumented teens to get abortions if they obtained private funding. But since March 2017, when President Donald Trump appointed Lloyd to lead the agency, Lloyd has instructed ORR shelters to send pregnant young women to have consultations at religiously affiliated crisis pregnancy centers that oppose abortion and to undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds. Once, Lloyd ordered a shelter to halt a young woman’s two-step medication abortion halfway through while he conferred with colleagues about deploying a scientifically unproven method to “reverse” the abortion to “save the life of the baby.” (After Lloyd had the girl taken to an emergency room to check on the “health status” of the fetus, she was eventually allowed to complete the procedure.) In another case, he ordered that a pregnant girl who was otherwise ready for release should be held in custody until she received anti-abortion counseling. In yet another, he denied an abortion

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