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Word of the abortion quickly reached HHS, which demanded an explanation. On Jan. 28, the USCCB provided a timeline to the agency, outlining the chain of events leading to the abortion.

On April 29, Bishop DiLorenzo, along with two other bishops, sent out a missive to about 350 U.S. Catholic bishops, giving details of the incident before it appeared in the media. The Wanderer, a Catholic publication, and The Washington Times broke the story in mid-June.

The American Life League on Monday called on Mr. Herring to investigate why CCR Executive Director Joanne Nattrass did not stop the pending abortion.

“It seems to us that if she knew of some illegal activity that was taking place, one thing she should have done immediately was call the police,” said the group, which is based in Fredericksburg, Va. “While it is reported that Bishop DiLorenzo said that he forbade the abortion, we are equally concerned about his inaction as well.

“Who signed the consent forms? Did Joanne Nattrass know of the commission of a crime and not inform the authorities?”

Ms. Nattrass did not return a call asking for comment, and her spokeswoman, Paula Ritter, said she could not discuss personnel issues.

William Etherington, attorney for the diocese and CCR, said the bishop has gotten a lot of “reviling” e-mails on the issue but declined comment.