ACLU Wants Documents on Bush Admin Policy on Abortions for Refugees

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

ACLU Wants Documents on Bush Admin Policy on Abortions for Refugees

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 17
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — The ACLU asked a federal court on Monday to order the Bush administration to release documents outlining policy limiting refugee and undocumented teenagers’ access to abortion. The request comes after a Virginia-based Catholic Social Services helped a foreign teenager get an abortion.

Officials with Commonwealth Catholic Charities in Richmond supposedly signed a parental consent form for the abortion in question.

News of the abortion broke this summer and put the charity in a national controversy that resulted in the firing of employees and an apology from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond.

Now, the pro-abortion law firm has filed legal papers asking for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to reveal its policy after allegedly ignoring an August Freedom of Information Act request from the group.

"Many unaccompanied teenagers come into the U.S. fleeing abuse and torture in their home countries," Brigitte Amiri, staff attorney with the ACLU, said in a statement obtained.

"As a matter of law, the U.S. cannot deny reproductive health care to these teenagers," Amiri says, adding that she believes ACF adopted a policy preventing abortions after the incident.

The ACLU filed an injunction today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York asking for release of the documents from ACF, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Richmond’s Commonwealth Attorney, Michael N. Herring, eventually looked into the case after the news reports and did not file charges. He said the Commonwealth Catholic Charities officials involved in the signing of the abortion consent form did not act with criminal intent.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also launched an investigation, but there is no report yet of the results.

HHS spokesman Kenneth Wolfe talked with the Washington Times at the time

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."

In the case, the Catholic charity supposedly 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, they took the unnamed girl for an abortion and illegally signed the consent form that is supposed to be completed by a parent, grandparent or adult relative.

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of the Richmond diocese eventually issued a statement in the Catholic Virginian apologizing for the incident.

He noted that Catholic Church officials fired four of the charity staff members involved in the case and participated in signing the abortion consent form.

"I express my profound apology for the loss of life of one of the most vulnerable among us," DiLorenzo wrote. "And I apologize for the profound embarrassment this has caused the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, and Catholics throughout the United States."

DiLorenzo said he was told of the impending abortion but said the charity’s staff told him there was nothing they could do to prevent the abortion from taking place.

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