A bill that would help victims of sex trafficking may die in the Senate -- all because Senate Democrats can't overcome their love affair with abortion.
In January, Senator John CornynJohn CornynAbbott bows to Trump pressure on Texas election audit Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook Democrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight MORE (R-Texas) introduced S. 178, the "Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015." The bill authorizes the creation of the Domestic Trafficking Victims' Fund, which would use fines and fees against traffickers to help victims escape this modern-day slavery.
One might expect the bill to coast through the Senate. It was approved by voice vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, has 10 Democratic cosponsors, and has had Democratic prior to the 114th Congress. But on Tuesday, Democrats chose to demand that unless the bill expands abortion funding, they will refuse to help sex slaves escape their captors.
At issue is how the bill restricts abortion funding to that which is consistent with the Hyde Amendment -- in other words, only for abortions related to rape, incest, and life of the mother.
In an attempt to compromise, Republican leadership offered Democrats the chance to strip the measure out through an amendment. However, that option was rejected, and as such S. 178 appears doomed to failure.
In respons, Cornyn has called out Democrats for reneging on their support for S. 178. However, Cornyn and Senate Republicans should go even further, and flatly eliminate any abortion funding from this bill.
First, and perhaps most importantly, the Hyde Amendment allows for abortions if the child is created through rape or incest, or if the woman's life is in danger. Given that every single trafficked woman is repeatedly raped, and thus her child is the result of rape, it is a very real possibility that the Hyde Amendment's limitations would actually be an enormous opportunity for abortionists to profit off of federal funds, and for traffickers to get their victims back on the street to be further dehumanized.
Second, all pregnant women carry an unborn human child. Pregnancy through sex slavery is a horrific crime which should be punished. But the punishment should be directed at perpetrators, not the innocent child conceived during the abuse.
Third, pregnancy costs pimps money because most johns don’t want to have sexual intercourse with pregnant women. As such, traffickers use abortion to get women back on the street as soon as possible.
Unless the bill can absolutely guarantee that funds will only be used by women who are fully independent of the emotional, psychological, and physical control of their traffickers, there is a strong possibility that federal funds will be assisting heinous criminals to abort children and subject women to more sex abuse.
Since the introduction of the "Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015," Republicans have bent over backwards to compromise. They initially included the Hyde Amendment provisions, then had an open committee discussion on the panel. Then, this week, despite Democrats having two months, a mark-up session, and a committee to object to the provision, Republicans gave them another chance to have a debate on the measure's merits through the amendment process.
It is very clear that Senate Democrats are not willing to compromise at all on their position that abortion should be paid for by the public -- anywhere, anytime. Republicans should also not compromise on their desire to help women escape sex trafficking -- even if they’re pregnant.
Trafficked women already suffer tortuous abuse that no human being should ever be subject to. Often, the scars are life-long. Abortion stands a tremendous chance of making that damage even worse for the very women opponents of this bill want to help, since abortion is a trauma of its own.
All reasonable people agree on helping trafficked women by making traffickers pay. Some even support the death penalty for such people. Yet opponents of S. 178 have made this debate about abortion, not rescuing women -- and as such have created a divisive debate about publicly funding the death penalty for innocent, unborn children.
Westen is a co-founder of Voice of the Family, a coalition of pro-life and pro-family groups, which defends life and family in the media. He is also a co-founder of LifeSiteNews.com, a leading daily news website on life and family issues