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ACLU lawsuit aims to force Catholic bishops to offer abortions to teenage illegal immigrants

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

April 9, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Obama Administration aiming to force Catholic organizations into offering abortions and contraception to unaccompanied minors illegally entering the U.S.

The ACLU’s complaint is that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and others are not providing access to these “reproductive health services” as part of contracted healthcare services for the illegal immigrants.

“Some of these organizations impose their religious beliefs on these teens by denying them access to contraception, emergency contraception, and abortion,” the ACLU said in a press release.

The April 6 lawsuit seeks release of documents related to the government contracts with the agencies providing the services to the unaccompanied minors and women, numbering in the tens of thousands, specifically citing minor girls and women who are raped in the process of coming to the U.S.

The ACLU estimates that between 60-80 percent of females crossing the border are sexually assaulted and it alleges the federal Administration for Children and Families ignored its Freedom of Information Act request on the documents for more than six months.

The USCCB alone receives millions of dollars for these contracts.

The US Bishops’ programs provide care to illegal immigrant and refugee minors in Arizona, California, Florida, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, according to the Arizona Daily Independent.

The federal government issued proposed regulations in late 2014 mandating federal contractors that care for unaccompanied minors to provide access to contraception, “emergency contraception,” and abortion if a minor has been raped. They are to take effect in June.

The USCCB and others objected to these in February 2015, citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

“The bishops want to take millions of dollars in government contracts, but at the same time they don’t want to comply with the terms of the contract,” ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri told RH Reality Check. “Religious freedom is a fundamental right. But that right doesn’t include imposing your beliefs on others to harm them, which is exactly what the bishops are doing here.”

The USCCB contends that even referring for abortion violates its religious freedom, and the ACLU claims there are reports from workers interacting directly with the unaccompanied minors saying the minors are “not getting the care they need” because of the “USCCB’s refusals.”

Another third-hand claim said a Catholic-operated facility intentionally took its time in reuniting one pregnant girl with her family members so her pregnancy would progress too far for a legal abortion in her particular state.

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“We believe deeply in religious freedom,” Amiri said. “But religious freedom does not include the right to take a government contract that requires providing access to health care, and then refuse to provide a teen who has been raped the health care she needs."

The civil liberties organization said it is requesting the documents to “determine the full scope of this problem.” 

This is not the first time the ACLU has battled Catholics in court.

In 2013, the ACLU sued the USCCB over its policy forbidding Catholic hospitals from committing abortions.

Last year it filed an amicus curiae brief in Wyoming in support of the HHS mandate forcing Catholic organizations to provide abortifacients, contraceptives and sterilization procedures to employees.

Earlier this year the ACLU sued a Washington hospital for performing too few abortions, and also said a Michigan Catholic hospital should be forced to perform sterilizations.

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