For decades, U.S. Catholic agencies have been on the front lines helping to provide young immigrants and refugees with the physical and emotional support they need after they arrive in America.
But a new lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union could put the much-needed aid programs in jeopardy.
The ACLU recently filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), arguing that the government should not give money to the Catholic aid programs because they do not refer or provide abortions or birth control to young, unaccompanied minor refugees and immigrants, the New York Times reports. The ACLU argues in the lawsuit that the agencies are legally required to provide access to contraception and abortion because they receive government funding.
Here is more from the report: But the lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, asserts that the social agencies get federal money to offer a full range of health services, including contraception and abortion. And by allowing the agencies to deny any of those services on religious grounds, it argues, the federal government is violating the First Amendment prohibition on establishment of religion
Mark Weber, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the agency would not comment on pending litigation.
Drawing on thousands of internal documents and emails, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the A.C.L.U. complaint provides sketchy details of about two dozen cases over the last five years in which pregnant girls, many of whom said they had been raped, requested abortions. In several cases, according to the complaint, the girls had to be transferred to a different caregiver, eventually obtaining abortions.
Life News story continues here: ACLU lawsuit