AmeriCorps, the federally funded program that sends members to work in nonprofit, community service-oriented jobs, is shutting down a training program for healthcare workers over an abortion controversy. In April, an investigation found that six AmeriCorps members offered emotional support to New York women during abortions, which is a violation of federal law.
Buzzfeed reports that the federal agency that runs AmeriCorps, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), is shutting down the healthcare worker program, which has been operational for two decades, over the abortion scandal. In April, the federal Office of the Inspector General reported that six AmeriCorps members provided emotional support and sometimes transportation to women seeking abortions. Federal funding isn’t supposed to go towards abortions except in extremely limited, state-by-state circumstances.
The report did, however, conclude that the illegal behavior was “on an extremely limited scope,” and was discovered because the National Association of Community Health Centers, which oversaw the six members, self-reported that it had happened. From The Hill:
“Although the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) investigation concluded the misconduct occurred on an extremely limited scope, the grantee broke the law and violated the spirit of national service,” CNCS spokeswoman Samantha Jo Warfield wrote in a statement to The Hill. She did not detail the prohibited behavior.
Dave Taylor, chief operating officer of the NACHC, said in a statement to The Hill that the group’s leadership “self-reported the issue to the proper authorities” immediately after learning about the potential violations.
The healthcare program, Community HealthCorps, was AmeriCorps’ longest-running healthcare program. The NACHC got $30 million over the last five years to fund the program. The women obtained abortions at clinics in New York run by the Institute for Family Health, which told NBC it hadn’t violated federal law in any way.
If you didn’t hear about any of this, that’s because it was a much bigger story in the conservative news: the Family Research Council accused AmeriCorps of acting as “political operatives” and dubbed them “AmeriCorpse,” saying the program was offering “support to the abortion industry.” The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Subcommittee demanded an investigation into AmeriCorps. Chairman Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma called the abortion doula incident “disturbing.”
Kind of like a valuable community health program being shut down. Buzzfeed provided a rundown of the many other services the program provided:
Best known for training teacher volunteers in underserved schools, AmeriCorps has also trained more than 7,300 members at health clinics nationwide as part of theCommunity HealthCorps program run by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) nonprofit based in Bethesda, Maryland. They give HIV tests, educate asthma and diabetes patients, remind the elderly to take medicine, and perform a myriad of other tasks now at more than 200 thinly staffed health clinics in 17 states and Washington D.C.
But a moral panic over six people supporting women through an abortion is surely a good reason to scrap the whole thing.
Screenshot via YouTube/Community HealthCorps