HHS issued a new regulation on “sexual abuse and sexual harassment” of unaccompanied children on Dec. 24, 2014, and although the regulation does not specially name abortion as one of the required emergency medical services, an official from HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, which operates ORR, told CNSNews.com via email that abortion is one of those services.
“The ‘lawful pregnancy-related medical services’ includes abortion,” the email statement said.
As CNSNews.com reported earlier, the HHS regulation also includes “emergency contraception,” which includes abortion-inducing drugs such as Plan B One Step, which can prevent a fertilized egg from implantation.
“This IFR proposes standards and procedures to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse and sexual harassment involving unaccompanied children (UCs) in ORR’s care provider facilities,” the regulation says.
The regulation adds: “Care provider facilities must provide UC victims of sexual abuse timely, unimpeded access to emergency medical treatment, crisis intervention services, emergency contraception, and sexually transmitted infections prophylaxis, in accordance with professionally accepted standards of care, where appropriate under medical or mental health professional standards.”
According to the Center for Family and Human Rights, or CFAM, this regulation applies to the many faith-based charities and organizations that are opposed to abortion and abortion-inducing drugs based on their religious convictions.
HHS addressed this moral objection in the regulation by suggesting that organizations could abate those concerns by partnering with others to provide medical services, including ORR itself.
“ORR is mindful that some potential and existing grantees and contractors may have religious or moral objections to providing certain kinds of services, including referrals (for example, for emergency contraception),” the regulation said.
“ORR is committed to providing resources and referrals for the full range of legally permissible services to UCs who need them, helping to facilitate access to these options, and doing so in a timely fashion and in a manner that respects the diverse religious and cultural backgrounds of UCs,” it added.
“At the same time, ORR is also committed to finding ways for organizations to partner with us, even if they object to providing specific services on religious grounds,” the regulation said.
The regulation goes on to say: “Again, as long as UCs [unaccompanied children] have timely access to all required services, different organizations could divide up the services provided.”
“In some circumstances,” the regulation says, “another way in which the grantee could ensure access to any program services would be for the grantee to notify the federal program office responsible for the grant if a UC, who has been informed of the available services, may qualify for or be entitled to any program services, including referrals, to which the organization has a religious objection. It would then be the federal agency’s responsibility to secure the provision of the needed services, or, if appropriate, transfer the case to another provider.”
The HHS official said in an earlier email to CNSNews.com that the federal regulation is the “first regulation to comprehensively address the issues of sexual abuse and sexual harassment in Office of Refugee Resettlement care provider facilities nationwide.
“The standards build upon and enhance existing state and local laws, regulations, and licensing standards,” the official said.
Providers must comply with the rule by June 24, 2015, according to the Federal Register.