264458 Religious restrictions on reproductive health services for victims of human trafficking: Analyzing the policy landscape in light of ACLU v. Kathleen Sebelius & USCCB

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Annie Fehrenbacher, MPH , Department of Community Health Sciences, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Susie Baldwin, MD, MPH , Office of Health Assessment and Epidemiology, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Brigitte Amiri, JD , Reproductive Freedom Project, American Civil Liberties Union, New York, NY
This presentation analyzes policies regulating the provision of services for human trafficking victims in the United States and the role of religious organizations in providing as well as denying access to reproductive health services. Since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000, the Catholic Church has received an estimated $20 million in federal funding to assist trafficking victims. An ongoing legal battle between the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) highlights growing tensions about the role of faith-based organizations in anti-trafficking programs. In 2009, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the federal government for allowing the USCCB to use public funds for programs that prohibited access to contraception, abortion, and sterilization for trafficking victims. In October 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services declined renewal of USCCB's contract, prompting Catholics to label the decision a violation of religious conscience laws, pointing to the 1973 Church amendment, the 1996 Coats-Snowe Amendment, and the 2005 Weldon amendment. Women's rights advocates call for comprehensive access to reproductive health services for victims of trafficking, who may experience sexual violence that puts them at risk for unintended pregnancy. Religious groups defend the rights of entities and professionals to refuse to perform or provide referrals for reproductive procedures contrary to their religious or moral convictions. With the reauthorization of the TVPA still pending, funding for victims' assistance remains an area of concern on all sides. Future policy implications will be discussed.

Learning Areas:
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the presentation, the participant will be able to: 1. Identify current policies regulating access to health services for victims of human trafficking. 2. Describe 3-4 reproductive and sexual health problems commonly experienced by victims of trafficking. 3. Discuss legal and ethical implications of restricting access to reproductive health services for victims of trafficking based on moral or religious doctrine.

Keywords: Religion, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a reproductive health professional with five years of experience working with trafficked persons and conducting research on trafficking policies and programs. I have legal training in sexual politics and human rights, and I have worked as a public health advocate at a non-profit law firm.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.