Trump

Who is this Menstrual Moderator, anyway?

I got curious about Scott Lloyd, Trump’s former head of the Office of Refugee Reassignment (ORR), so I went Googling after I wrote yesterday’s second blog post about how Lloyd has been barring pregnant migrant teens who were raped from accessing abortions. I discovered that Mr. Lloyd, like me, went to college in Virginia. He graduated from James Madison University, which had been my first choice school. Alas, they rejected me. Their loss.

Lloyd then went on to attend law school at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. In law school, back in the fall of 2004, Mr. Lloyd shared a six page essay he wrote with about 80 of his fellow students. It was for a course called Catholic Social Teaching, which explored religious, ethical, and legal thinking on issues including abortion, health care, and poverty. In the essay, Mr. Lloyd wrote about how, as a young man, he had gotten a woman pregnant and she had opted to have an abortion against his wishes. Although Mr. Lloyd had accompanied his former partner to an abortion clinic and helped pay for the procedure (mostly in one dollar bills), he was clearly very upset by the memory. He wrote:

“The truth about abortion, is that my first child is dead, and no woman, man, Supreme Court, or government—NOBODY—has the right to tell me that she doesn’t belong here.” 

So… because Scott Lloyd had premarital sex with someone he had no plans to marry, and evidently did not choose to use a condom, he thinks he has the right to dictate to every other woman what she should be doing with her uterus. His personal experience with “knocking someone up”, and then his anguish over her decision to choose abortion, has put him on the path to taking away other women’s rights to choose. But not before he became so distraught over his former partner’s choice to have an abortion that he developed a drinking problem that led him to passing out on park benches and elevators and once even got arrested for disorderly intoxication.

I don’t want to diminish Mr. Lloyd’s pain. I do have some empathy for men who want to raise their offspring. Unfortunately, when it comes to pregnancy, there simply isn’t an equal playing field. Until the fetus is fully gestated, it remains a part of the mother’s body. Pregnancy remains a risky situation for some women. It can lead to health problems or even death. Add in the personal costs to having children– the medical bills, potential of lost income, career delays, and everything else that comes with childbearing, which very often falls to the mother, and I can’t agree that the father should have a say in whether or not the mother chooses abortion. I will never agree that it’s a man’s right to force a woman to stay pregnant. The idea of that is completely repugnant to me, almost as much as the idea of abortion is.

That’s right. I am personally– for myself, that is– against abortion. I doubt I would have ever chosen it, and since I’m 46 years old and about to be menopausal, I doubt it will ever be an issue I’ll face. But I can’t say that I absolutely wouldn’t choose it. I don’t think most women plan to have abortions or wish for them. Maybe a few women become jaded when it comes to that procedure, but for most, I’m sure it’s a very difficult decision and traumatic experience. It’s also a very personal choice, especially since the woman who makes it will have to live with her decision for the rest of her life. And while men certainly play a crucial part in creating life, it’s the women’s bodies that make life possible and women are the ones who assume every physical risk during pregnancy.

Mr. Lloyd now lives in beautiful Front Royal, Virginia. I have been to Front Royal. It’s the kind of place where I’d enjoy settling down someday. It’s at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and not far from Washington, DC. In 1993 and 94, I worked at a summer camp not far from Front Royal, which at least in those days, maintained some rural charm. Front Royal has a burgeoning Catholic community, of which Lloyd is very much involved. It’s the location of Christendom College, a Catholic liberal arts college which was recently in the news for mishandling a sexual assault case.

Lloyd attends St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church with his wife and seven children, where the average family includes at least six kids and there hasn’t been a teen pregnancy in fifteen years. Although it’s been a long time since I was last in Front Royal, it sounds kind of like it’s turned into a town much like my mom’s hometown of Buena Vista, Virginia, which has become a LDS mecca since some Mormon investors purchased her alma mater, Southern Seminary Junior College and turned it into Southern Virginia University.

I have never really had a problem with Catholics. I seem to attract them. Hell, before Bill was LDS, he was Catholic and has said if he were to go back to church, he’d probably choose to be Catholic again. However, just as there are extreme Protestants, there are extreme Catholics. The problem with extreme religions of any stripe is that they hijack a person’s common sense and make them believe that they have the right to make laws based on their world views. You see, I don’t think someone like Scott Lloyd has any business whatsoever serving in the federal government. The government in the United States is supposed to be separate from religion and an individual’s religious beliefs. As we can see by Lloyd’s actions as former head of the ORR, those extreme religious beliefs can cause a person to think they are doing the right thing when they rely on those beliefs to act outside of the law.

Scott Lloyd had absolutely NO RIGHT to be tracking the menstrual periods and pregnancies of minor aged migrant girls who are living in shelters run by the ORR. In the United States, women still have the right to access abortions. Mr. Lloyd abused his position as “guardian” of minor aged migrant girls by refusing to allow them to access abortions. Just because they aren’t United States citizens, that does not give him the right to deny them basic civil rights or hold them hostage. Reading about his actions yesterday made me feel nauseous. It’s as if he sees these girls, who were babies themselves not that long ago, as mere “vessels”. They’re just there to incubate the unborn… and then, once those babies are born, they might regain some of their own individual rights. It’s a wonder anyone gets pregnant in the United States these days.

I think now that he’s been exposed, Scott Lloyd should be fired from government service. If he wants to work as an anti-abortion activist, he should either do it on his personal time or get a job in the private sector. Unfortunately, until Trump is evicted from the White House, Lloyd will probably continue his campaign of harassing these young girls who simply need help and understanding as they launch into their lives. Lloyd justifies his actions because some woman he impregnated dared to defy his wishes and claim ownership of her body. For that reason, Lloyd is on a personal crusade, not just to rid the United States of abortion, but also birth control. It’s absolutely insane. In fact, I’d say he needs a therapist. But, according to Mother Jones, Mr. Lloyd has been given a new role, since he so badly fucked up as former head of the ORR (all of those migrant children he cares so deeply about who are now separated from their parents), he’s going to be involved in outreach to religious communities with The Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives.

Well… maybe that job will be a better fit for ol’ Scott. He had no experience working with refugees before he was in his last job, just lots of experience trying to strip women of their reproductive choices. It sounds like Faith and Opportunity Initiatives might be more along the lines of suitability for Lloyd… although really, he should be working in the private sector. Government employees should not be allowed to pursue their personal agendas using taxpayer dollars.

Standard
movies, Trump

Are we in 1970s era Romania?

This morning, I watched a video by Rachel Maddow about a Trump administrator who has been tracking girls’ pregnancies in an attempt to force them to give birth. Scott Lloyd, the very pro-life former head of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement and author of a paper entitled “Why you can’t be pro-life and pro-contraception”, was featured on Maddow’s piece revealing how, as recently as June 2018, his staff members were tracking the menstrual periods and pregnancies of girls between the ages of 12 and 17 living in shelters run by his office. I could explain what was in the video, but I really think you should watch it yourself. It’s extremely creepy. Or, if you’d rather read an article, here’s an irreverent one by Emily Alford on Jezebel.com. If you have time, you should also read this article about Scott Lloyd’s “work” with migrant families.

So how did we find out about Lloyd’s shenanigans? It’s due to the bravery and determination of a girl who had come to the United States for help. Despite being in a foreign land and not yet of age, she managed to get help from attorneys who sued on her behalf.

Scott Lloyd sought to block a teenaged rape victim from getting an abortion. The 17 year old girl was one of many youngsters who had come to the United States hoping for asylum. She was sent alone to a shelter, run by Lloyd’s office. Lloyd determined that he would make it his priority as head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement that no girls would have access to abortions. The 17 year old had arranged her own transportation at her own expense to and from her doctor’s office, but Lloyd’s staff basically held her hostage at the shelter, trying to force her to stay pregnant long enough so that it would be illegal for her to have an abortion. Somehow, the girl managed to get herself to lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and they sued. The girl got her abortion, but only because she had the gumption to sue for the right, which is currently protected by U.S. law. In the wake of the lawsuit, it came to light that countless other girls, some as young as 12, were being forced to remain pregnant, even after they were raped.

To make things even creepier, staff members at the shelters were providing spreadsheets to Lloyd, detailing very personal information about the girls. He tracked their periods, whether or not they were pregnant and if they had asked for an abortion, how they became pregnant, and how far along they were. Lloyd also directed a staff member to read to one girl what happens during an abortion. He also tried to force them to see medical providers who subscribed to his pro-life views.

As I was listening to Maddow’s show this morning, I was reminded of a different country and a different time period. In the 1960s, Romania had a very liberal policy regarding abortion and birth control. Because many women were in the work force and there was a low standard of living in Romania, abortion and birth control were allowed. In fact, abortion was used as a family planning method there, because there wasn’t much birth control available and what was available was expensive. I wasn’t surprised to read about the abortions used in that manner. It was the same way in Armenia when I was there. I knew one woman who had seven abortions because there was no money for birth control and the men were reluctant to use condoms.

Anyway, in 1968, the Communist Party decided that the birth rate in Romania needed to be higher. They wanted Romania’s population to rise from 23 million people to 30 million. That’s how Decree 770 was created. Nicolae Ceausescu, who led Romania during that time, authorized the decree, which required all women to be monitored by gynecologists every month. Women who had miscarriages had to endure extensive investigations to be certain that the miscarriages weren’t actually abortions. All abortions and contraceptive methods were declared illegal, except for women over age 45 (later reduced to 40 in 1974, then raised to 45 again in 1985), women who had already borne 4 children (later raised to 5), women whose lives would be threatened by pregnancy or childbirth, or women who were rape or incest victims. Actually, it sounds like Ceausescu’s regime may have been more liberal than Lloyd’s policy is!

Decree 770 led to many women having babies they couldn’t afford. The children often ended up in orphanages, not because they were actually orphans, but because their parents couldn’t take care of them. The mortality among pregnant women was at its highest ever during Ceausescu’s regime, when Decree 770 was enforced. The Securitate, Romania’s secret police, kept a close watch on surgeries done in hospitals to enforce this very creepy and intrusive policy. Moreover, many children born during this regime were malnourished and suffered from physical, mental, and emotional handicaps, or were raised in horrifying conditions that led to a rise in child mortality. Many women sought illegal abortions, which were extremely risky for many reasons, legal and medical.

As I sit here listening to Rachel Maddow’s spot on this topic for the second time today, I am once again amazed at how the United States has allowed a monster like Donald Trump to run the country… and appoint disgusting, perverted creeps like Scott Lloyd to run government agencies, particularly when they have absolutely no relevant experience. All Lloyd is good for is pushing Trump’s revolting agenda.

It’s going to take a long time for the United States to recover from this disastrous administration and its attack on anyone who isn’t a white, Republican male. It’s going to take an even longer time for the United States to regain its reputation after electing this ignorant buffoon to office.

If you are interested in watching a fascinating film about abortion in Romania during Decree 770, I highly recommend the movie 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days. It’s in Romanian and set in 1987, when Decree 770 was still law. Although the subject matter isn’t very pleasant, it’s definitely eye-opening… and for me, it’s a little creepy, because the sights and sounds remind me of 90s era Armenia.

If you can stomach the subject matter, this is a pretty fascinating film.

Truly, I think it’s beyond sick that Scott Lloyd, paid by our tax dollars, was tracking the menstrual periods of migrant girls who have come to the United States looking for help. It’s even sicker that he’s doing everything in his power to prevent these young girls from getting help after they’ve been raped and gotten pregnant. It’s absolutely shameful that instead of helping these girls, Scott Lloyd was victimizing them again and invading their privacy in what should be among the most personal aspects of their lives. And even though he’s been censured by the court, he was still obsessively tracking these girls’ periods and pregnancies just months ago. What a sick, sick man.

Standard