(NCRegister) Faith based agencies that receive federal funds to assist unaccompanied immigrant children in the United States may soon be required to provide access to abortion inducing ‘morning after pills’ and abortion services for minors that may be pregnant.
Joined by the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) a coalition of faith based agencies have warned that an Interim Final Rule published by the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refuge Resettlement ‘falls short’ of having adequate protections with organizations having a moral, religious and ethical objections to provide, “all lawful pregnancy related medical services” which would include emergency contraception and abortion services.
“Faith based organizations excel in caring for all people and the right of those organizations to do so is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions must be respected,” the USCCB said in join comments on the 20 February, together with Catholic Relief Services, World Relief, World Vision and the Natl Association of Evangelicals.
The new HHS rule takes effect on the 24 June and will apply to contractors and grantees that receive federal funds to assist unaccompanied minors.
“Religious liberty is really important for us to do the work we do,” said Brian Corbin, the Vice President of Social Policy for Catholic Charities USA.
Corbin told the Natl Catholic Register that “religious freedom is at stake” and said he agrees with the USCCB that the interim final rule is inadequate. Like the Bishops Conference, Corbibn hopes the federal government will accommodate Catholic Charities’ religious and moral beliefs.
The HHS interim rule quietly published on Christmas Eve in the Federal Register, marks the second occasion in 4 yrs that the Obama Administration has tied federal funds for humanitarian relief services to a mandate that they provide contraception and abortion services.
In September, 2011 the Obama Administration cutfunds to the USCCBs campaign against human trafficking because of HHS policy that gave ‘strong preference’ to agencies that offered referrals for the ‘full range of legally permissible gynecological care’ and abortion services. Up until then, the Bishops had been lauded for their efforts to provide food, clothing and medical care to human trafficking victims.
This latest interim rule is yet another example of ‘stealth legislation through regulation–It’s a terrible trend,’ said Susan Yoshihara, Sr. Vice President for Research and Director of the Intl Organizations Research Group at the Center for Family & Human Rights.
Presently, 6 of the 9 national refugee-resettlement agencies in the United States are faith based organizations. The USCCB is the largest in terms of persons served, while ‘World Relief’ mobilizes the resources of the evangelical community. Together faith-based organizations resettle the majority of refugees entering the United States.
The USCCB said, “Faith based organizations excel in caring for all people and the right of those organizations to do so consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions must be respected.”