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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — As the Department of Health and Human Services scrambles to deal with the growing problem of sexual abuse of girls held in its care facilities for unaccompanied, undocumented immigrant children, it has issued new regulations designed to eliminate the most obvious symptom of their abuse: pregnancy.

Under new rules published by the department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), child victims of sexual abuse must be provided with “timely, unimpeded access” to emergency contraception (i.e. the abortifacient “morning-after pill”) or abortion, if a pregnancy has been confirmed.

Contracted care facilities that object to such drugs and procedures on religious grounds will only be able to retain their contracts if they agree to fully inform abuse victims of their legal right to “emergency contraception” and abortion, and immediately notify the ORR when girls request them, or by partnering with an organization that is willing to provide access in their stead.

“Care provider facilities must provide UC victims of sexual abuse timely, unimpeded access to emergency medical treatment, crisis intervention services, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infections prophylaxis, in accordance with professionally accepted standards of care, where appropriate under medical or mental health professional standards,” the regulation reads.  “If pregnancy results from an instance of sexual abuse, the care provider facility must ensure that the victim receives timely and comprehensive information about all lawful pregnancy-related medical services and timely access to all lawful pregnancy-related medical services.”

Asked by CNSNews whether abortion was included under “lawful pregnancy-related medical services,” a representative from the HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, which oversees the ORR, confirmed that it did.

“The ‘lawful pregnancy-related medical services’ includes abortion,” the spokesperson said in an email.

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The same HHS official told CNSNews in a previous email that the new rules are the “first … to comprehensively address the issues of sexual abuse and sexual harassment in Office of Refugee Resettlement care provider facilities nationwide.”  

However, the rules expressly forbid punishment of minors (referred to in the document as “UCs”) found to have engaged in sexual abuse of other children, requiring them instead to be separated from their victims and given opportunities to “improve [their] behavior.”

“Rather than imposing disciplinary sanctions to control UC behavior, care provider facilities use positive reinforcement via a token economy system,” the regulations state.  “UCs receive extra privileges or the ability to participate in extra activities, such as a movie night, when they exhibit positive or ‘good’ behavior. UCs may not be able to participate in extra activities if they do not exhibit good behavior, but UCs never have services taken away nor are they ever placed in isolation for disciplinary reasons.”

The new regulations have been implemented without warning or input from taxpayers, bypassing normal government rulemaking procedures that require a formal public notice and a request for comments from the public before any proposed rule change goes into effect.

“HHS will ordinarily publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register and invite public comment on the proposed rule,” the ORR explained in the document outlining the regulations, “[but] HHS has determined that it would be contrary to the public interest to delay finalizing the provisions of this regulation until a public notice and comment process is complete.”

“HHS believes that implementing standards that govern the detection, prevention, and response to the sexual abuse and sexual harassment of UCs as soon as possible is of such importance that publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking would be contrary to the public interest.”

Care providers have until June 24 to implement the changes required by the new regulations.  After that, they will be audited regularly to ensure compliance.

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