Friday, June 20, 2008

Feds Investigate Catholic Charity for Helping Teen Get Abortion

As much as I would love to point out the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, I think there are more problems with this story than that.

A 16-year-old undocumented immigrant from Guatamala living in Virginia was helped by workers from Commonwealth Catholic Charities get an abortion in January. One of the workers must have posed as the young woman's parent, since Virginia law requires parental consent for minors to have abortions. Four of the workers for the organization were fired, and the federal government is looking into the matter since this organization gets over $7 million a year in federal funding. And thanks to Henry Hyde, federal monies can't be used to pay for an abortion. So what are the many things wrong with this situation? Basically, lots of things could have been done to prevent this.

1. Abortion is illegal in Guatamala in almost all cases. If this young woman was in the United States specifically to obtain the abortion, this wouldn't have been necessary if abortion were legal in her home country.

2. The Global Gag Rule restricts family funding to any clinic or hospital that even mentions abortion. Contraception is the best way to prevent unintended pregnancy and, therefore, abortion. Even though abortion is illegal in Guatamala, she probably wouldn't have been able to obtain contraception because of this legislation.

3. Like I said before, the Hyde Amendment keeps federal funds from being used to pay for an abortion. If not for that law, this wouldn't be a federal crime. If not for that law, a woman's reproductive system wouldn't be under government scrutiny. It's really none of the government's business who has an abortion and under what circumstances, but dead white guys like Hyde still have control over women in America.

4. Virginia has parental consent laws for abortion. There's a possibility that this young woman's parents aren't in the United States. Commonweatlth Catholic Charities has a refugee minors program who came to the United States without their parents. If her parents are in the United States, they're here illegally. Furthermore, she would have had to attend "pre-abortion counseling" designed to discourage her from having the abortion and then wait 24 hours. I'm going under the probably false assumption that she's aware of the restrictions in the first place. And that doesn't even include the possibility that this young woman would be abused or disowned if she told her parents or that she was afraid of being deported. Obviously, the system failed her and she had nowhere to turn.

5. Federal funding shouldn't even be allocated to religious organizations in the first place. That $7 million could be used to support family planning in Virginia.

I'm not going to say that what Commonwealth Catholic Charities did was a noble thing. I am not sure under what circumstances this young woman got the abortion. I am suspect of any organization that provides "crisis pregnancy counseling," since they are in the business of deciding what a woman will do for them and not letting the woman decide what's best for herself. And how do I know that they didn't decide for her that it's best that she get an abortion? It might not even have been this young woman's choice. Hopefully, more details will come of this story so we can keep up with it.

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