OIG: Members of Federally Funded AmeriCorps Provided Abortion-Related Care to Women

Melanie Arter | April 26, 2016 | 8:28pm EDT
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(CNSNews.com) - The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) found that members of AmeriCorps, a federally funded service organization, were allowed to provide abortion-related care to pregnant women at three New York City clinics operated by the Institute for Family Health (IFH) between 2013 and 2015.

“The Edwards M. Kennedy Serve America Act (the Serve America Act), the Federal statute authorizing the AmeriCorps program expressly prohibits the use of AmeriCorps resources to “provid[e] abortion services or referrals for receipt of such services,” the OIG report stated.

AmeriCorps is “a network of local, state, and national service programs that connects over 70,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet community needs in education, the environment, public safety, health, and homeland security.”

The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) is one of AmeriCorps’ largest grantees, receiving over $30 million over the last five years.

According to the report, NACHC in Bethesda, Md., allowed “a few AmeriCorps members to provide emotional support (doula care) to women during abortion procedures” at three IFH clinics in New York. IFH is a subgrantee.

“Investigators discovered that NACHC had disregarded the direction of CNCS’s General Counsel in 2010 to include in its training materials and member agreements the abortion prohibition precisely as stated in the Serve America Act,” the report stated.

NACHC instead adopted a narrower restriction that stated: “Providing or promoting an abortions; Providing a direct referral for an abortion. A referral consists of a name, address, telephone number, and other relevant factual information, such as what insurance is accepted.”

NACHC continued to “deviate from the prescribed language even after a 2011 Congressional hearing following CNCS’s disclosure that two other grantees had committed abortion-related prohibited activities,” the report stated.

NACHC’s former national director “chose to authorize AmeriCorps members at IHF to provide doula care during abortions without informing CNCS” or asking whether those services are allowed, the OIG found.

Upon completion of the investigation, “CNCS suspended drawdowns on the grants, instead allowing only reimbursement of incurred expenses.”

Also, “CEO Wendy Spencer contacted NACHC’s AmeriCorps National Director to emphasize the seriousness of the allegations and the importance of the prompt and full cooperation” with the investigation.

Furthermore, “CNCS required NACHC to disallow the hours devoted to the prohibited activities, suspend the members involved, issue new guidance and conduct new training for members and site supervisors regarding prohibited activities, and revise and reissue every member’s service contract to include more precise language concerning the scope of the abortion prohibition.”

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), a nurse for more than 40 years and a member of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, said in a statement Tuesday: “I have long highlighted the work of our nation’s community health centers as an alternative to the big-abortion business of Planned Parenthood and its related groups.

“As a nurse, a mother, and a defender of life, I am heartbroken to now learn that the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) allowed AmeriCorps volunteers to promote abortion in violation of federal law,” Black said.

“NACHC didn’t just break the rules, they broke trust with the American people,” she said. “My constituents expect that federal funding given to our community health centers will be used to protect and enhance people’s lives, not to be a willing partner in their destruction.

“Strict oversight is needed to determine whether NACHC’s support of abortion is indeed limited to the incidents described in the OIG report or if the problem is more pervasive. Until then, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) should reevaluate NACHC’s eligibility for HealthCorps grant funding,” Black said.

“Our laws protecting the unborn today are tragically minimal, but they must mean something and when they are not followed, consequences must be enforced,” she added.

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