Pro-life leaders are criticizing a $350 million grant program from the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) launched last month that would in part provide "family planning services" to Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC).
According to a HHS document describing the program, those who accept the grant money will take responsibility for the education, clothing, health, and general welfare of children under their care. The document says that immigrants will typically be between 12 and 17 years old, and stay for 30 to 35 days with those who take grant money from the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The document notes that while grant recipients will be expected to take care of people of varied ages, “the Homeland Security Act of 2002 defines UAC as minors who have no lawful immigration status in the United States; who have not attained 18 years of age; and for whom there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States or no parent or legal guardian in the United States is available to provide care and physical custody."
"Are we really surprised to learn that in the midst of policy confusion and human suffering surrounding this immigration crisis, the one thing the Obama administration is absolutely clear about is pushing the abortion and contraception agenda on children?"
What is causing controversy is the requirement that caregivers provide “family planning” services. Additionally, providers must act "in a manner that is sensitive to the ... sexual orientation, gender identity, and other important individual needs of each UAC."
Father Victor Salomon, Director of Hispanic Outreach for Priests for Life, told LifeSiteNews that providing such services means "the Obama administration plan[s] to provide these children with 'family planning' services – which means contraception, abortifacient drugs and maybe even abortion."
"It is a human tragedy that tens of thousands of children have lived under such terrible conditions that they are willing to risk the long and dangerous trip across the United States-Mexico border. They don’t want to continue suffering the violence and abuse of the gangs and the drug cartels in their homelands,” he said. The services under the grant, however, "will welcome them to this country with even more abuse.
"The government says that we must be sensitive to their gender and their sexual orientation," said Salomon, "but these children come from countries that do not see abortion as a right, or as vital to health care. It is more important that we are sensitive to their values."
Stephen Phelan, Human Life International's Director of Mission Communications, was likewise critical. "Are we really surprised to learn that in the midst of policy confusion and human suffering surrounding this immigration crisis, the one thing the Obama administration is absolutely clear about is pushing the abortion and contraception agenda on children?" asked Phelan. "This cannot surprise us, but it should enrage us. We have never seen such an extreme pro-abortion administration in our country’s history."
"They have used this policy before to exclude Catholic Charities from receiving federal grants for their great work serving minors who were sold into sex slavery."
Phelan said the administration's program would cause a great deal of harm to the young children it is intended to help. "Imagine being a young child, alone and in a terrifying and vulnerable situation, suddenly confronted with propaganda that calls into question one of the only things you knew about yourself – your identity as a boy or as a girl."
"This is heaping abuse on abuse," continued Phelan, "and raises the urgent need for extra scrutiny to protect vulnerable children from predators in these centers."
“It is common to wrap legitimate human services around truly destructive aspects, and sell the entire package as if it is in the best interest of the one served,” he said. “This is the norm in the international development industry: hiding the legalization of abortion in a ‘women’s health’ bill in nations where it would never be accepted on its own.”
This is exactly what evil does; it hides in language that sounds good,” he added. “The downside of this immoral and dangerous policy is the greater risk of harm for already vulnerable and isolated children, and expecting the American taxpayer to cough up funds under the guise of humanitarian goodwill.