Anti-choice senators playing an underhanded game

There are some lawmakers in the Senate who demonstrated yesterday that they will not miss an opportunity to interfere with reproductive decision-making.  A handful of Republican Senators snuck an abortion coverage ban into the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (S. 178) before it came up for a vote in the full Senate on Wednesday.

Those of us that work with women and young people of all genders know that good, honest information and access to safe health care is what survivors of violence need. They need our full support. They do not need further restrictions on their access to reproductive health care. 

{mosads}For trafficking survivors, the need is especially dire.  They commonly experience rape and sexual abuse.  In one survey of sex trafficking survivors, they reported being forced to have sex with 13 “buyers” a day, and three out of four women had at least one pregnancy while trafficked. According to Amnesty International, six in ten women or girls who cross the border into the U.S. are raped.

It is nothing short of cruel to turn around and deny someone in this situation the means to end a pregnancy by taking away funds for abortion.  Safe, affordable reproductive health care shouldn’t be a political bargaining chip. When a woman needs to end her pregnancy, it’s important that she’s able to see a licensed, quality health provider. When a young person needs reproductive health care, they deserve access to health care providers that respect them. Just like everyone else, survivors of trafficking should have access to the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion care.

As they have made clear with this latest attempt at rolling back reproductive rights, these anti-choice Senators  in Washington will stop at nothing to make abortion unaffordable and inaccessible. Instead of providing access to compassionate, safe and affordable medical care, anti-choice senators are interfering with a trafficking survivor’s ability to get end a pregnancy.

This is not justice for survivors of trafficking. Instead of limiting their ability to get health care, let’s unite to support survivors of human trafficking. These survivors, many of whom are young women and girls, need the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion care, so they can make decisions based on what’s best for them.  

If we truly believe in their right to live free from coercion, we should protect their ability to access the health care they need.

Johnson is executive director of URGE (Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity).


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