Alone. Afraid. Abused.

Young Women Denied Medical Care by Religious Entities Given Millions by the Government

Blurred faces of women

The ACLU, the ACLU of Northern California, and the ACLU of Southern California filed a lawsuit against the federal government for awarding millions of dollars to organizations that provide care, including access to medical care, to unaccompanied immigrant minors.  The government authorizes some of these organizations to refuse on religious grounds to follow the law that requires them to provide these young people with access to contraception and abortion, even if the minor has been raped.

The suit claims that by authorizing government grantees to impose religiously based restrictions on young women’s access to reproductive health care – care that they are entitled to receive by law – the government has violated the constitutional guarantee of the separation of church and state. Groups like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have been awarded upwards of $10 million to care for these young people, despite their explicit refusal to allow these young women to access contraception and abortion.  Placing restrictions on reproductive health care has devastating consequences for this population.  A high number of unaccompanied immigrant minors have been raped in their home countries or during their journey to the United States, and therefore they have an acute need for critical reproductive health care. 

Here are the facts:

  • Numerous children and teens flee their home countries due to abuse, torture, or violence, and come to the U.S. on their own. 

  • The federal government is legally required to provide for unaccompanied minors people with basic necessities, such as housing, food, and access to emergency and routine medical care, including family planning services and abortion.
  • Reports indicate that between 60 and 80 percent of women and girls who cross the border are sexually assaulted.

  • Groups like the United Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) have been awarded upwards of $10 million to care for these girls. 

  • The federal government approved grants to USCCB even though it was well aware that USCCB’s agreement with its sub grantees explicitly prohibits them from providing, referring, encouraging, or in any way facilitating access to contraceptives and abortion services.
  • Despite the government’s assurance that USCCB would not be awarded trafficking funds, the government gave them a new contract in 2015; the ACLU is investigating that contract now.





Stay Informed