A bill designed to aid victims of human trafficking in the U.S. should not be divisive. It should not be stalled in the House of Representatives. It should be enacted swiftly, so as to get help to as many victims as possible, as quickly as possible.
This bill would improve programs already in place that are specifically designed to aid underage victims of trafficking, increase the ease of which local law enforcement and prosecutors can investigate possible trafficking and child pornography, and establish more services for child victims of trafficking.
So, why is this bill stalled?
Abortion rights advocates are demanding that any program receiving federal funds for aiding human trafficking victims must include birth control and abortion as part of the “after-care services.” The bill, which quickly passed through the Senate, has now become a political weapon.
The trafficking bill looked primed for quick passage earlier this month, after clearing the Senate Judiciary Committee without opposition. It aims to boost the tools available to law enforcement to go after people involved in sex trafficking, and creates a fund for helping victims that’s paid for with criminal fines.
But just as floor debate was to begin, Democrats raised alarms about a provision blocking money in the victims’ fund from paying for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother. Similar prohibitions on taxpayer dollars have been included in Congress’ annual spending bills for decades, but Democrats said they couldn’t agree to extend them to a new pot of money.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the bill will now be shelved, as no agreement is in sight. This means that literally thousands of human trafficking victims will go without services.
The fact that this bill has been shelved is repugnant. First, many human trafficking victims have no need of abortions (in the U.S., males comprise about half of trafficking victims.) Second, many victims do not want birth control or abortions. Third, there are many organizations that already offer these services. The bill in question would not cut funding to those organizations; it would simply extend funding to organizations (such as these) that offer alternatives.
Some of the most common health problems among trafficking victims include malnutrition, dental problems, injuries from assaults (fractures that never properly healed, cigarette burns, etc.), anxiety, addiction issues, and depression. The failure of the Senate to pass this bill means thousands of victims will continue to suffer.
The pro-life group Students for Life of America slammed the bill’s opposition as a ‘stunning display of protecting abortion at all costs.’
‘The abortion lobby and their allies in the Senate should be ashamed of themselves. How dare they call themselves ‘pro-woman’ when they epically failed to help sex trafficking victims because they would rather force taxpayers to fund abortion,’ stated Kristina Hernandez, the group’s director of communications.
Victims of human trafficking have suffered enough. They should not suffer because of political contentions.