United States Customs and Border Protection (CBF) has denied a Brisbane woman’s claim that the agency asked her if she’d had an abortion during a stopover in Los Angeles. The agency insists Madolline Gourley was asked if she’d recently experienced a “loss of pregnancy”. Gourley maintains that wasn’t the case and she was specifically asked if she “had a recently had an abortion”.

Per The Daily Beast, CBP said it’s a requirement for officers to ask all detained individuals if they’d recently lost a pregnancy, according to a policy issued in November 2021.

“CBP denies any wrongdoing,” an agency spokesperson told The Daily Beast.

“The officer acted with integrity, respect, professionalism and in accordance with US laws and regulations.”

Gourley told PEDESTRIAN.TV an officer asked her several times if she was pregnant while being patted down. She was asked again while being walked from the pat-down room to a separate detention area. After this, the officer’s question changed.

“This time the question was followed with: ‘Have you had a recent/recently had an abortion?'” Gourley said.

“She definitely didn’t say: ‘Have you recently suffered a loss of pregnancy?’ Even though I was a bit stressed and nervous about what was happening, it’s a bit hard to mistake hearing ‘abortion’ as ‘loss of pregnancy’.”

“If CBP has admitted asking these questions is just routine — which totally surprised me because I expected them to say I made it all up — I don’t think it should come as a surprise that one of their staff might have said ‘abortion’ instead of ‘loss of pregnancy’.”

The CBP spokesperson said officers must complete a form with details about the people who are held in detention and denied entry into the United States. For some reason, one of the questions on the form requires officers to ask individuals if they’re pregnant or have recently suffered a pregnancy loss.

“CBP officials are required to ask these questions for the CBP systems of records,” they said.

“It’s for the health and wellbeing of the traveller.”

But Gourley said officers didn’t ask her any other health-related questions, except about medication. This was asked during her second interview by a separate officer who’d asked the questions about her fertility.

“I’d probably been in the immigration holding area for about two hours before the medication question got asked,” she said.

At the time of writing, Gourley has still not received her deportation documents. She claims she needs these documents to seek legal advice and know whether she will be permitted entry into the US in the future.

Gourley has also sought a review of her deportation via a DHS TRIP form but isn’t hopeful for a favourable result.

“I don’t think the decision will get reviewed fairly and/or overturned.

“I also think it’s unfair that the department that deported me is the very same department reviewing my case,” she told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

The CBF has stated that a Freedom Of Information Request (FOIA) would need to be filed in order to know the details of its review.

If you are an Australian traveller and require assistance, you can call the Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas or 1300 555 135 from within Australia.

Image: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images