Last week, a federal judge in California dismissed a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union had filed in 2016 challenging the government’s award of grants to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to provide services to unaccompanied minor illegal aliens and trafficking victims. In the lawsuit, the ACLU argued the grants violated the Establishment Clause because the Department of Health and Human Services allowed the Catholic organization (and its sub-grantees) to deny girls and women in their care contraceptives and abortion.
The court rejected the ACLU’s Establishment Clause claim in a methodical 34-page opinion, explaining that the federal funds were not used to endorse or advance religion. Further, as the San Francisco-based federal judge stressed, the government would transfer minors to other facilities if there were a conflict between the services sought and the religious tenets of the organization running the shelter.
Buried in the middle of the court’s analysis was a shocking revelation: Obama administration officials transported pregnant minors in federal custody to New Mexico to obtain abortions in order to circumvent parental consent laws in other states.
An email exchange between two Health and Human Services employees in April 2014 exposed this disturbing fact. In discussing Maria, a pregnant minor held at a temporary shelter, possibly in Texas or Florida—the workers noted that Maria stated she wanted an abortion and did not want her parents to know that she was pregnant. At the time, Maria’s parents, who were to be her sponsors, were located in Florida. Maria was in the custody of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.
After learning Maria had requested an abortion, according to government emails, “two ORR field specialists looked into the abortion laws in both Texas and Florida and reported that the general rule in both states was that minors could not have abortions without parental consent (absent exceptions, such as obtaining a waiver from a judge).” The Texas field specialist then emailed other ORR staff members, explaining: “This is why termination of pregnancies are done in New Mexico due to the fact that currently (by law) there is no parental consent requirement.”
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