When an agency of the bishops’ conference was awarded a five-year grant in 2006 to fight human trafficking, the proposal explicitly said that no funds would be spent on “activities that would be contrary to our moral convictions and religious beliefs.” At the end of last year, when the bishops sought to renew their grant, their proposal was awarded a score of 89 by an independent review board at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). But it was subsequently denied by political appointees, despite the fact that two other organizations with scores of 69 and 74 were given a grant.
None of this is mentioned in the Times editorial. Instead, it sides with a judge who ruled last month on a case filed three years ago that the old contract was unconstitutional because it allowed the bishops “to impose religiously based restrictions on the expenditure of taxpayer funds.”
One of the persons who established the HHS program, Steven Wagner, said a few months ago that none of the organizations that initially sought funding wanted to provide for abortion. Indeed, he said the program was founded with the understanding that it was “totally inappropriate” to see abortion as a remedy to women in need.
At work here is the Times’ insatiable appetite for abortion rights, and its growing hostility to religious liberty. Nowhere in the Constitution is abortion mentioned—this “right” was invented out of whole cloth; religious liberty, on the other hand, is enshrined in the First Amendment. One wonders whether the Times respects constitutional law anymore.
When the Times says the bishops’ contract was not renewed because they were “unwilling to meet the needs of trafficking victims,” it grossly insults the bishops and denigrates women. Helping to kill the child of an exploited woman is not meeting her needs—it is exploiting her even further.