The Obama administration is under fire forÂ rejecting the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishopsâ€™ request for a grant to help victims of sex trafficking, because it doesnâ€™t provide full gynecological services such as family planning, contraception and abortion.
HHS higher-ups dismissed a recommendation from its reviewers that the USCCB be awarded the $2.5 million it requested, because the Catholic Bishops werenâ€™t willing to provide some family planning services to trafficking victims.
â€œWe believed it necessary that the one federally funded social service organization in charge of implementing and overseeing case management in any area is willing to provide the full scope of services that trafficking victims can learn about through the program,â€ George Sheldon, acting assistant secretary, said in a heated hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today.
â€œI believe we need to provide them [victims] a full array of services so they have a fighting chance,â€ Sheldon said when grilled by Republican House members of HHSâ€™s decision, which he insisted was â€œwithin the law to respond to the needs of this population.â€
The Trafficking Victim Services Grant Awards provides funding for social services for trafficking victims, such as food and shelter, not funds for abortion or family planning services.
But abortion became an issue when HHS officials added a clause this year about giving strong preference to applicants that provide victims with comprehensive case management services. That would include information on, and referrals to, â€œfamily planning services and the full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care.â€ [more]