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Indefinite detention of pregnant women is not pro-life

Archbishop Wenski urges President Trump to instruct ICE to reverse course

MIAMI | Archbishop Thomas Wenski issued the following statement regarding a new policy being implemented by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement which keeps pregnant women apprehended at the border in indefinite detention while they await immigration hearings.

Combined coat of arms of Archbishop Thomas Wenski and the Archdiocese of Miami.


Combined coat of arms of Archbishop Thomas Wenski and the Archdiocese of Miami.

At this year’s March for Life, President Trump told participants, “you love every child, born and unborn, because you believe that every life is sacred, that every child is a precious gift from God.” At the same time, President Trump praised the pro-life movement for its work “to build a society where life is celebrated, protected, and cherished.”

In recent changes to policies, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has defied both the letter and spirit of the President’s words. ICE has ended a long honored and sensible practice of the presumptive release of pregnant women in detention and has chosen to detain them indefinitely. Absent extraordinary circumstances pregnant women should not be forced to face the stress, trauma and inadequate care in detention facilities while awaiting what are civil and not criminal proceedings. To imperil the lives of unborn babies to “punish” their mothers is bad policy; and, it is cruel and anti-life. 

Detaining a pregnant woman puts her pregnancy and the well-being of her unborn child at risk. The failure to receive proper nutrition during pregnancy or treatment for health conditions that contribute to poor pregnancy outcomes exacts great human costs.

But such detention is also costly to taxpayers, especially since many are held in private “for profit” prisons contracted to detain immigrants. How can ICE or the Administration rely on these corporations, whose business is to make a profit, to provide adequate prenatal care?  

As President Trump has said, “every life is sacred.” This policy change by ICE suggests that some lives are less sacred than others. Subjecting pregnant women and their unborn children to the ordeal of being jailed contradicts President Trump’s pro-life and pro-family stances. The President should instruct ICE to reverse course. 

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