Monday, January 12, 2009
ACLU Files Suit to Stop Religiously Based Restrictions in Federally Funded Trafficking Victims Program
ACLU Press Release: ACLU Asks Court To Stop Misuse Of Taxpayer Dollars In Trafficking Victims' Program:
BOSTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today asked a federal court to require the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that funds distributed through the Trafficking Victims Protection Act are not being used to impose religiously based restrictions on reproductive health services. Since 2006, HHS has allowed the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to limit, based on its religious beliefs, the types of services trafficking victims receive with taxpayer dollars.
"Human trafficking is basically a form of modern-day slavery," said Brigitte Amiri, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "There are many organizations that are deeply committed to assisting trafficking victims; our government should ensure that these organizations can provide the full range of needed services, including reproductive health care."
Through the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the federal government distributes funds to cover an array of services needed by the more than 14,000 individuals, predominantly women, who are brought into the United States annually and exploited for their labor, including in the commercial sex industry. Many trafficking victims experience extreme violence and sexual assault at the hands of their traffickers. Some become pregnant as a result of rape and some contract sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, according to today's legal papers.
Read the full press release here. The complaint is available here.