The Austin Chronicle

Young Immigrants Fed Abortion Lies

Nation's detainees receive abortion advice from Texas' erroneous "A Woman's Right to Know" booklet

By Mary Tuma, May 18, 2018, News

Texas is helping the Trump administration lie to pregnant minors. The Office of Refugee Resettlement recently required its shelters nationwide to distribute a booklet to undocumented youth in their custody that's published by the Texas Department of State Health Services and filled with anti-choice bias and medically inaccurate information. Clearly meant to sway women from abortion, "A Woman's Right to Know" erroneously links the procedure to breast cancer and a risk of suicide – a claim debunked by the American Psychological Association – and peddles scientific­ally false information concerning both gestation and abortion. The brochure, given in Texas to abortion patients, has long been targeted by Democratic lawmakers, who in recent legislative sessions have sought, unsuccessfully, to fix its many errors. Despite uproar from medical professionals and health groups, DSHS in December of 2016 infused the already error-ridden books with more untruths.

Ordered by a federal judge to post signs reminding the young girls of their right to abortion, some ORR shelters have also begun placing signage directing them to anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers. The directives are the latest in the ORR's effort to dissuade undocumented minors from accessing abortion. Under anti-choice advocate Scott Lloyd, the federal office has worked to block abortion-seeking girls, including a teen who had been raped, from attending medical appointments. With the support of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the ORR held a pregnant Brownsville minor "hostage," instigating a series of court rulings that eventually found in her favor. A request from the U.S. Department of Justice to invalidate that order is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tina Hester, executive director of Jane's Due Process, slammed the booklet, saying the "ORR wants to scare, shame and mislead young women, including those who were sexually assaulted on their way north to escape abusive households or violent gangs." Four leading members of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus (Reps. Diana DeGette, Jerry Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, and Barbara Lee) also admonished ORR's decision, saying the booklet is full of "blatant lies" about the safety of abortion. They noted how the brochure, disseminated nationwide, contains information specific to Texas' restrictive reproductive rights laws. The caucus also called Lloyd's orders "increasingly unhinged and unethical," pointing to the department tracking reproductive cycles with spreadsheets and daily updates, in order to pressure and coerce women at their most vulnerable. "Mr. Lloyd has now made the caregivers of these young women – those to whom they look for support and nurturing – complicit in lying and spreading misinformation about their reproductive health," they wrote.

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