ACLU Asks Court On Thursday To Ensure Reproductive Health Care For Women Trafficked Into The United States

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 2, 2009

CONTACT:
Christopher Ott, Communications Director, 617-482-3170 x322, cott@aclum.org, Lorraine Kenny, National ACLU (212) 549-2634

BOSTON -- On Thursday, December 3, 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union will ask the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts to allow a legal challenge to proceed against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The ACLU filed the case earlier this year against HHS for permitting the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to use taxpayer money to impose religiously based restrictions on reproductive health services in the U.S. government's trafficking victims program.

Since April 2006, HHS has awarded USCCB from $2.5 million to $3.5 million annually to make grants to organizations that provide direct services to trafficking victims under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act. HHS did this knowing that USCCB prohibits, based on its religious beliefs, grantees from using any of the federal funds to provide or refer for contraceptive or abortion services, even though the Trafficking Victims Protection Act contains no such restrictions.

In an attempt to block the legal challenge, HHS has argued that the ACLU of Massachusetts cannot bring the lawsuit. On Thursday, the ACLU will demonstrate in court that the Constitution permits federal taxpayers to challenge this misuse of public dollars.

The ACLU's brief is available here

WHAT:
Argument in ACLU of Massachusetts v. Sebelius, et al. (formerly ACLU of Massachusetts v. Michael O. Leavitt, et al.), a case against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for allowing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to use taxpayer dollars to impose religiously based restrictions on reproductive health services for trafficking victims.

WHEN:
Thursday, December 3, 2009, at 2pm

WHERE:
United States District Court
District of Massachusetts
John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse
Judge Richard G. Stearns
1 Courthouse Way
Courtroom 21, 7th Floor
Boston

WHO:
Available for comment immediately following the argument:

Brigitte Amiri, Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, who will argue the case before the court.

Sarah Wunsch, Staff Attorney with the ACLU of Massachusetts.