Virginia Catholic Charity Under Fire for Helping Teenager Get Secret Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 17, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Virginia Catholic Charity Under Fire for Helping Teenager Get Secret Abortion

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 17
, 2008

Richmond, VA ( — A Catholic charity in Virginia is coming under fire for allegedly helping a foreign teenager in the foster care system to have a secret abortion. Officials with Commonwealth Catholic Charities in Richmond allegedly signed a parental consent form for the abortion, violating state law.

The charity apparently was helping a 16-year-old Guatemalan girl whose parents were lost and became a ward of the federal government.

According to a Washington Times article, the charity fitted the girl, who already has one child, with a contraceptive device to prevent her from becoming pregnant.

After CCC officials learned of the pregnancy, the newspaper indicates they took the unnamed girl for an abortion and illegal signed the consent form that is supposed to be completed by a parent, grandparent or adult relative.

The incident first came to light on Friday when the Catholic magazine The Wanderer published a letter from three Catholic bishops to their colleagues with concerns about the situation.

The letter, according to the Times, came in response to a federal investigation that began in April. It discussed the firing of four CCC employees and the suspension of a staff member at the bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services agency.

HHS spokesman Kenneth Wolfe talked with the Times about the problems and said the agency could put in jeopardy the millions in funding the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops receives for foster care for immigrant children.

"These federal funds are awarded with the clear purpose of caring for unaccompanied minors here from other countries," Wolfe said. "To that end, we were surprised and disappointed to learn of a chapter of Catholic Charities using this funding to facilitate a minor procuring an abortion."

He said the case is still under investigation by federal authorities and said the USCCB has been asked to make sure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.

"We have also requested several corrective actions be taken by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops … in order to prevent this type of abuse from happening again," Wolfe told the Times. "Our agency is one that supports human life, and we take that responsibility seriously."

The abortion incident and the resulting media attention may prompt concerned Catholics and pro-life groups to ask local bishops and diocesan leaders to conduct more careful oversight on Catholic charitable groups.

The Catholic Church has a clear teaching on abortion and pro-life advocates expect related agencies to abide by those teachings and policies.