Friday, June 24, 2016

HHS Sued Over Allowing Catholic Agencies To Limit Health Services To Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors

The ACLU today filed suit in a California federal district court alleging that officials in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have violated the Establishment Clause in allowing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and its sub-grantees to impose religiously based restrictions on the use of taxpayer funds to aid unaccompanied immigrant minors.  The complaint (full text) in ACLU of Northern California v. Burwell, (ND CA, filed 6/24/2016) alleges in part:
1. There are currently thousands of unaccompanied immigrant minors ... in the legal custody of the federal government.... Many have come to the United States fleeing abuse and torture in their home countries; many have been sexually abused or assaulted ....; some have also been trafficked for labor or prostitution....
2. The federal government is legally required to provide these young people with basic necessities, such as housing, food, and access to emergency and routine medical care, including family planning services, post-sexual assault care, and abortion.
3. To provide young people with these necessities, the government ... issues grants to private entities, including a number of religiously affiliated organizations.
4. ... Defendants authorize a few of these religiously affiliated organizations—such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... and its subgrantees across the country ... to refuse on religious grounds to provide information about, access to, or referrals for contraception and abortion, even if the young person in their care has been raped.
New York Times reports on the lawsuit.