Lifting the "Gag" on Trafficking Services

In 2006, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded a multi-million dollar contract to the United States Conference on Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to administer subgrants to organizations that directly serve trafficking survivors. Federal funding assistance for trafficking victims is an important and much-needed resource for a highly vulnerable population, however USCCB attached some heavy strings to receiving the grant money. In order to access the funds, USCCB requires anti-trafficking service organizations who receive funds to agree to a religiously motivated restriction on the use of grant funds. Specifically, grantees must certify that its organization will not use federal funds to discuss or provide contraceptive and abortion referrals.

The USCCB-imposed funding restriction is much like the "global gag rule," an executive order that was reinstated in 2001 by President George W. Bush after his first day in office. Similar to the USCCB directive, the global gag rule prohibits foreign non-governmental organizations that receive federal funding from performing or discussing abortion-related services.

Such government funding restrictions block advocates from providing critically important victim services, restrict public discussion on abortion, and create unnecessary barriers for some of the world's most vulnerable women from seeking comprehensive health care. The U.S. government estimates that approximately 800,000 people are trafficked worldwide every year. Women and girls make up 80 percent of transnational trafficking victims, and up to 50 percent are minors. Globally, the highest number of trafficked persons come from Asia. The same is true in the U.S., where Asian and Pacific Islander women (PDF) comprise the largest racial group of trafficked persons. Extreme poverty, sexism and racism are the major catalysts for trafficking, and survivors are commonly forced into exploitative situations — such as domestic servitude, sweatshop and agricultural work, the commercial sex trade and servile marriages — where they are often exposed to sexual trauma and unable to access health resources.

Clearly, trafficking victims brave incredible odds to survive. It seems only humane that our federal government should support direct service providers' ability to give trafficking survivors life-saving information about the health services they need, including abortion and contraceptive care.

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Ben Fischer

By doing so you condemn many people to death who made no choice to do so. That simple fact makes it ethically wrong. You don't kill everyone to make sure no one becomes a terrorist, but this shares the same mentality as the argument proposed by Priscilla Huang. There is no guarantee that all persons born into a bad situation will become integrated into them.
The ACLU really needs to get some ethical people running it. You can't step on everyone's rights to gain something for a small group.

Colin Donovan, STL

I understand why from the perspective of the ACLU, supporter of a women's right to abortion but not the right to life of the unborn, why you would oppose this rule of Catholic social agencies.

Consider this, however, what happens in this country when decisions of personal conscience are driven completely out of public life? What happens when the only rule of conscience is the legal rule, the decisions of the state? By saying Catholics cannot participate in social services you are also saying that at some future date they may not refuse to euthananize the indigent or the handicapped, or some other group that a future state might require as a cost-saving measure. This leaves under the umbrella of state-serving agencies ONLY those who will be compliant. It drives out from under it ESPECIALLY those whose consciences would otherwise make them the supporters of the marginalized and the disenfranchised.

You no doubt think that this would never happen in the US, so its not a consideration. I'm sure the Germans thought that in 1932. I know that growing up I never thought the day would come when to be a believer and act according to one's conscience would drive one from the public square -- but apparently it has.

Is the issue not what the Catholics chose to support or not support, but rather, The Church is restricting funds given to it by the federal government?

From my understanding, the Catholic Church is free to do whatever it wants with its own money. However, when it takes money from the federal United States government, then there are certain strings attached. I'm sure if it were the government trying to impose something on the Catholic Church that was not in any way affiliated with money given to them by the government, the ACLU would support their religious freedom.

At least I hope so ...

Colin Donovan, STL

That would be the case if abortion and contraceptive services were a necessary part of caring for such women. It is only necessary by the opinion of one segment of the population, opposed by other segments.

It is a right in law to be free to use such services, as it is right to bear arms, not a duty of the government to provide abortion, contraception or a gun. Thus, the Church's agencies are not proposing to take away anyone's rights, just not to be forced to violate its own. The ACLU and its friends in the abortion industry would coerce all other voices out of public life, hospitals and any other venue which does not knuckle under to this agenda. Being incapable of democratically achieving this, they would do so by judicial fiat. It is, as I was suggesting previously, the pointy end of tyranny.

Janice M. Paulden

Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation,
Hail to the Chief! We salute him, one and all.
Hail to the Chief, as we pledge cooperation
In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call.
To our new Mr President!
We proudly salute Mr Obama!
Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander,
This you will do, that's our strong, firm belief.
Hail to the one we selected as commander,
Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief!
With love and respect for the new hope!

Janice M. Paulden

Please play this Casablanca movie video of French patriots singing the French National Anthem in the face of invading Nazi supremacy.
France gave America the Statue of Liberty!
Thank you France! We love you!

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