A contentious battle between Catholic groups and the Obama administration has flared in recent days, fueled by the new health care law and ongoing divisions over access to abortion and birth control.
The latest dispute centers on the Department of Health and Human Service’s decision in late September to end funding to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to help victims of human trafficking, or modern-day slavery. The church group had overseen nationwide services to victims since 2006 but was denied a new grant in favor of three other groups.
The bishops organization, in line with the church’s teachings, had refused to refer trafficking victims for contraceptive or abortion services. The American Civil Liberties Union sued and HHS officials said they made a policy decision to award the grants to agencies that would refer women to those services.