State Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) criticized presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on social media last week after she expressed concern for pregnant women who have miscarried while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), questioning whether she has the “moral authority” to do so given her pro-choice stance.
“Detaining pregnant women is dangerous,” Harris said on Twitter last week. “As many as 28 women have miscarried in ICE custody over the past two years. I’ve called on this Administration to end this practice now.”
Hill took to Facebook with his response, asking, “How can you have any moral authority decrying an accidental miscarriage when you support voluntary miscarriage (aka abortion) up to the point of birth?“
He went on to say, “It seems the only logical difference is the desire of the mother. Does this change the moral logic?”
It’s worth noting that Hill’s characterization of abortion “up to the point of birth” is misleading, part of a wider effort by conservatives to stoke outrage and spread misinformation about abortions that take place later in pregnancy.
“Pregnant women, regardless of immigration status, deserve dignity, respect, and access to adequate healthcare,” Fawn Bolak of ProgressNow Colorado told the Colorado Times Recorder. “It’s grossly inappropriate and ill-informed to compare an asylum seeker miscarrying a pregnancy while detained in ICE custody, to someone having full access and ability to make their own decisions about their pregnancy and family.”
It appears that pregnant immigrant women in ICE custody aren’t getting access to adequate healthcare given that the rate of miscarriage among pregnant detainees has nearly doubled under the Trump Administration, according to a report from the Daily Beast.
That could be due to the fact that Trump weakened protections for pregnant immigrants in 2017 when he rescinded an Obama-era policy that forbade ICE from detaining pregnant women in nearly all circumstances. The new rule came as part of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration, but didn’t garner the same degree of media attention as his policy of separating children from their families at the border.
Trump’s ICE directive makes no special exemptions for pregnant detainees, although it does require that they receive appropriate medical care while in custody. It also states that if adequate care cannot be provided, they must be transferred to a facility that is equipped to provide medical treatment.
A report from Buzzfeed News, however, found that pregnant women are actually being denied medical care when in dire need of it, including during and after miscarriage. It also found that some pregnant women have been physically abused and shackled around their bellies while in ICE custody.
Hill didn’t respond to a request for comment.