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Girls Beaten and Raped? Or The Catholic Church? Who are the victims?

14,000 daughters. Fourteen thousand women is a lot of victims of human trafficking.

In fact I’m wrong. I should write 14,000 females. Many of these 14,000 are girls, not yet women, girls often trafficked as sex workers -- a kind of 21st Century slavery. Many of these 14,000 victims are beaten, others raped. Many become pregnant, others contract HIV.

ACLU of Massachusetts v. Kathleen Sebelius, et al.

The Catholic hierarchy is eager to refuse these victims contraception -- even now when most American Catholics support contraception. I know it sounds harsh, but the policy of the Catholic hierarchy results in a harsh reality so let’s repeat it: The Catholic hierarchy want to refuse contraception to a rape victim, sometimes someone beaten then raped, sometimes a woman or girl who can’t speak English. And no abortions, not even after a rape.

Oh. One more thing:

The Catholic hierarchy wants your money. They want YOUR tax money when they deny beaten and raped girls contraception. They want your tax money when they refuse these victims comprehensive health services. In fact they even refuse to provide information about where victims can get contraception elsewhere.

Catholic Group Battles Government Over Right To Deny Birth Control & Abortions To Trafficking Victims

It sounds harsh, because what they have been able to do with our tax money is harsh.

I went to the University of Notre Dame. I’m proud of my Irish heritage. Most Catholics are great people, and most American Catholics favor contraception.

The Catholic hierarchy, on the other hand, the outfit taking in millions in tax revenue, claims that they are the victims in this controversy. They claim that, unless they get our tax money for these practices, they are having their religious liberty violated. Yes. You read that right. According to the Catholic Church hierarchy, THEY are the victims.

According to Catholic leadership, it’s quite simple: George W. Bush gave the Catholic Church tax money to provide services to victims of human trafficking. Those services would specifically EXCLUDE contraception and abortion regardless of circumstance. Now the Catholic leaders are mad and claim to be victims. Why? The Obama administration dared to take the side of rape victims and other human trafficking victims who deserve a full range of health options, including contraception.

Michael Gerson, the Bush administration Washington Post columnist, was particularly emphatic on the victimhood of the Catholic hierarchy.

Obama turns his back on Catholics

How about the girls, the beaten and raped girls who can’t speak English? Mr. Gerson didn’t bother to address what happens to women and girls who may face unwanted pregnancies under horrific circumstances. He went on at length about the victimization of the Catholic hierarchy – but nothing – zip -- about rape victims nor about those who become pregnant as sex slaves. Not one word about what it would be like to be pregnant under such circumstances.

Mr. Gerson did mention abortion, but he conveniently fails to mention contraception. He didn’t mention that a rape victim might want contraception and that the Catholic hierarchy wants to make sure that victims of human trafficking won’t get contraceptives under the “Gerson-Catholic Church-Takes-Your-Tax-Money” plan. Mr. Gerson touts the line of the Catholic hierarchy that there is some religious liberty requirement that our tax money be taken to so they can impose their religious ideology on victims of human trafficking. Do that on your own dime! There is no such religious liberty. If there were, they could sue and win.

Mr. Gerson used the phrase “eliminate a grant program”. In fact the government will continue the grant program and fund organizations that face squarely the fact that some of these women may not want to become pregnant after they are trafficked into prostitution.

Mr. Gerson failed to mention that the Catholic Church has gotten, and will continue to get, many millions of our tax dollars for many other programs. The Catholic hierarchy will only lose money from this one grant because they want to use our tax dollars to deny human trafficking victims contraception.

It’s shocking that rape and unwanted pregnancy doesn’t get a single mention from Mr. Gerson despite there being fourteen thousand trafficking victims. Out of 14,000 trafficking victims, doesn’t Mr. Gerson think one or two women or girls might face an unwanted pregnancy under incredibly painful circumstances? When they are often being trafficked into whorehouses? If he does think about these unwanted pregnancies, Mr. Gerson does not deign to mention these pregnancies in his column.

In truth the Catholic hierarchy can and probably will continue to deny contraceptive services to human trafficking victims. They just won’t get our tax money to do it.

The Obama administration, under the leadership of the Catholic HHS Secretary Katherine Sebalius, will send our tax money to organizations like the following: Heartland Human Care Services, Tapestri, and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Mr. Gerson did not name these organizations. It was almost as if he wanted to imply trafficking victims will be denied services. In truth, the above listed organizations treat these women as human beings -- human beings who should be treated as equals and offered information so that can make their own decision about all options, including contraception.

Human trafficking victims must not be re-victimized using our tax dollars. Nor should anyone be misled by Mr. Gerson’s column into forgetting exactly WHO is the victim in these awful situations. The victims of human trafficking deserve more respect than that.

For more information:

Sean Faircloth, is the Director of Strategy and Policy RDFRS U,S.. He is author of the upcoming book Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All and What We Can Do About It. Advance copies are available in the RDFRS store in the link above. Faircloth served ten years in the Maine legislature. In his final term he was elected Majority Whip by his caucus colleagues. At the Secular Coalition for America Faircloth devised and led the Secular Decade strategic plan. Faircloth speaks widely on separation of church and state, the Constitution, and secular strategy.

Faircloth served as opening speaker for Richard Dawkins Fall 2011 tour of the United States, and he will do so again in spring 2012.



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