Memo to Bishops: It’s Not About You. It’s About the Actual Victims.


By Sarah Lipton-Lubet, Policy Counsel, Washington Legislative Office

Slavery. It’s an abomination. And it goes without saying that survivors of modern-day slavery — human trafficking — should be able to access all of the services they need to protect their health and rebuild their lives. That is, unless you’re talking to the powerful political lobbyist, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

They’re raising a ruckus about so-called anti-Catholic bias because they weren’t given a grant by the Department of Health and Human Services for aid to trafficking victims. Why? Because they refuse to allow sub-grantees (the bishops are middlemen here, regranting the money to on-the-ground service providers) to offer access to contraception and abortion to trafficked women. Women who have been raped repeatedly and controlled by their traffickers. Women who urgently need reproductive health care and the power to make their own decisions and retake command of their own lives.

But that’s not stopping the bishops and their politically connected friends from expressing “false outrage over non-existent discrimination,” as Religion Dispatches’ Sarah Posner aptly points out. Posner exposes the basic flaw in the bishops’ premise: it’s not about them.

“The USCCB not getting taxpayer money doesn’t mean the government is anti-Catholic. No one is just entitled to federal grants. But the beneficiaries of federally-funded services are entitled to those services free of religious directives. And for victims of sex trafficking, comprehensive reproductive health services are just what the doctor ordered.”

The bishops are wise in the ways of political messaging and want to play the victim card with anyone who disagrees with them, rather than acknowledging that in our democracy, disagreement over public policy is par for the course.

There are real victims of religious discrimination in the world. Just as there are real victims when we’re talking about the evils of human trafficking. Here’s a hint: they’re not the bishops.

Learn more about human trafficking: Sign up for breaking news alerts, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • waterjoe

    If the USCCB was denied the grant because of its position on abortion and contraceptives, it is discrimination.

    If the USCCB was the most qualified for the grant, then the victims of human trafficking are victimized again by HHS’ discriminatory act.

  • jennifer-starr

    No discrimination. You’re allowed to have your position, you’re just not allowed to force it upon others who don’t believe the same thing. 

  • ahunt

    “If the USCCB was the most qualified for the grant, then the victims of human trafficking are victimized again by HHS’ discriminatory act.”

     

    I think it is safe to say that the USCCB is hardly the most qualifed unless the goal is to insure that…

     

    Women who have been raped repeatedly and controlled by their traffickers. Women who urgently need reproductive health care and the power to make their own decisions and retake command of their own lives

     

    …are not permitted to do so.

  • crowepps

    It’s difficult to imagine how the USCCB could possibly be “most qualified” when they admit they don’t plan to provide the services as outlined. 

  • bj-survivor

    Oh, I’m sure it hurts your and the USCCB’s wittle fee-fees to not be allowed an opportunity to shove your misogynist superstitions down the throats of rape victims, but you’ll just have to get over yourselves. Not even the majority of U.S. Catholic women follow the retarded proscriptions against contraception and abortion. And, pray tell, what ever can the Catholic Church offer sex-trafficking victims when it will not provide, due to their asinine and murderous superstitions when it comes to women’s reproductive health, for their medical and health needs?

  • colleen

    If the USCCB was the most qualified for the grant, then the victims of human trafficking are victimized again by HHS’ discriminatory act.

    Vetrinarians provide a better standard of healthcare to dairy cows than the USCCB offers up to human women. It’s difficult to imagine any scenerio in which they are the “most qualified” to receive any grant monies  which give them power and control  over the lives of women or children.

  • crowepps

    Why, golly, BJ Survivor, if the victims truly repent, the CC can forgive their sin of having been sex trafficking victims.

    After all, the focus when dealing with a victim of cruel exploitation is whether the foreigners who are controlling her access to food, shelter and medical care are satisfied that her thoughts and behavior are pleasing to them.  She won’t be surprised, that’s what her pimp and her customer also expected.

  • ahunt

    Now Now Crowepps…cruelly exploited victims will make poor decisions BECAUSE of their victimization. Much Much better to leave those important matters to MEN who would MORALLY exploit them.