Government fortifies abortion access for migrant children

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New Department of Health and Human Services guidelines released Thursday instruct the government to ensure unaccompanied migrant children in its care have access to abortion, even if it means taking them to another state.

The department, which takes custody of unaccompanied minors, unveiled a six-page field guidance document that tells staff to “make all reasonable efforts” to facilitate access to abortion if requested by a migrant.

“This may involve transporting a minor to a state in which abortion is lawful and available, if the minor is currently in a state in which abortion is not lawful or available,” the document said.

The guidance comes five months after a Supreme Court ruling that wiped out the constitutional right to abortion. That paved the way for Republican-led states across the country to adopt far-reaching restrictions on the procedure, prompting thousands of women in those states to seek abortions in other states.

The guidance also instructed intake teams at the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which handles unaccompanied minor care, to prioritize placement of pregnant unaccompanied minors and minors who have experience sexual violence in states without abortion bans.

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