- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2016

By funding Catholic bishops who won’t perform abortions in their service to immigrant minors, the American Civil Liberties Union says the federal government is breaking the law.

The group filed a lawsuit Friday against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, claiming the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops must perform abortions in order to be eligible for federal funding to care for minors caught crossing the border.

“When a teen has endured unthinkable tragedy — violence, rape, a terrifying journey to an unfamiliar place — and she arrives here afraid and alone, the last thing we should do is deny her the care she needs,” ACLU senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri said in a press release. “Our taxpayer dollars should not be used to authorize organizations to violate the law and impose their religious beliefs on these young women and deny them care they desperately need.”

Tens of thousands of minors from Central and South America are apprehended every year trying to cross the U.S. border. Many have been raped or sexually assaulted on the journey.

The government contracts with private caretakers in order to provide food, shelter and medical care to the border-crossers — many of which operate under the umbrella of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The ACLU said the bishops receive more than $10 million annually from the federal government to carry out their service, which it says violates the First Amendment’s prohibition against the establishment of religion.

The bishops refuse on religious grounds to perform abortions or administer abortion-inducing drugs.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, comes after similar ones challenging whether Catholic hospitals can refuse to perform abortions, or whether Catholic organizations can refuse to provide contraception under their health care plans.

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