Republican members of Congress are pressing the Department of Health and Human Services to reverse its denial of an anti-trafficking grant to a Catholic organization, claiming the decision represents religious discrimination, writes The Washington Post.
In letters to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius more than 30 GOP legislators objected to the agency's decision in September not to renew a $4.5-million grant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to aid victims of trafficking. The money was given to three other groups that, unlike the bishops' conference, sometimes refer clients for contraceptive or abortion services.
Two of the groups were ranked lower than the bishops conference by an independent review board. "We’re talking about a Catholic group with a superior track record that was pushed aside to promote the abortion agenda," said Rep. Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey.
An HHS spokesman said the department is "fully confident" that the winning groups are best suited to provide services to victims of trafficking and that "the health and ability of these victims to retake control over their own lives is our sole concern" in awarding the grants.