Our Lady of Soccorso
Catholic Charities Participate in Abortion: Antiabortion Group Urges Inquiry
July 15th 2008 @ 9:36 am

An antiabortion group is calling for a criminal investigation into a Richmond-based Catholic charity’s involvement in a 16-year-old illegal immigrant’s abortion.

American Life League sent a letter yesterday to Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael N. Herring, asking him to investigate Commonwealth Catholic Charities, which is under federal scrutiny for its role in the January abortion.

"Too many questions are left hanging," said Judie Brown, executive director and co-founder of American Life League. The organization has about 300,000 members, she said.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Thorne-Begland said his office had received the letter and would follow up.

"It really just appears to be a situation of applying the facts to the law," Thorne-Begland said.

In the letter, the group seeks answers about what it says was the "illegal assistance" that four charity employees gave to the girl, a Guatemala native who was in the government’s refugee resettlement program.

The employees were fired after it was revealed that they helped the girl travel to and from a facility, signed a consent form for the procedure and assisted with contraceptives in previous months.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is investigating whether the charity broke state and federal laws by facilitating the abortion.

Federal officials have said the charity failed to file a treatment authorization request, required for medical procedures for minors in the government’s care. In addition, Virginia law requires that girls younger than 18 have parental consent for abortions.

In the letter, Brown points a finger at Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo and Joanne D. Nattrass, executive director of the charity.

DiLorenzo and Nattrass have said they knew that the abortion was planned but were told there was nothing they could do to stop it. Neither DiLorenzo nor Nattrass could be reached for comment yesterday.

"It seems to us that if [Nattrass] knew of some illegal activity that was taking place, one thing she should have done immediately was call the police," the letter says. "While it is reported that Bishop DiLorenzo said that he forbade the abortion, we are equally concerned about his inaction as well."

DiLorenzo and Nattrass apologized for the incident last week, but Brown said that was not enough.

She said American Life League has repeatedly reached out to the Richmond diocese for answers but has received no response.

"This is a Catholic agency that sanctioned the killing of a life," Brown said. "We want to know why."

-Camille
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Take away God, all respect for civil laws, all regard for even the most necessary institutions disappears; justice is scouted; the very liberty that belongs to the law of nature is trodden underfoot; and men go so far as to destroy the very structure of the family, which is the first and firmest foundation of the social structure.
- St. Pius X, Jucunda Sane, March 12, 1904