Senate Democrats Block Advancement of Sex Trafficking Bill Over Abortion Funding Ban

CongressWASHINGTON — Senate democrats blocked the advancement of a federal sex trafficking bill on Tuesday after taking issue with the inclusion of a statute that prohibited money from a victim’s fund from being used for abortion.

The Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act had been presented by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and sought to increase penalties for those convicted of sexually exploiting children, engaging in human smuggling or holding women hostage as sex slaves. Fines collected from those engaged in such acts would be pooled into a fund that would be used to help victims of human trafficking.

But last week, Democrats noted that the bill included a stipulation that none of the funds collected from fines would we allowed to be used for abortion services—with the exception of cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. Some asserted that Republicans surreptitiously inserted the language without mention.

“They added the new language quietly, hoping nobody would notice, then we’d all march down there,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told reporters. “I put my name on this bill, by the way, because my staff trusted the Republican staff when they said there wasn’t any change in abortion language. … And [now] I got my name off this bill.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) vowed to filibuster the act, claiming that the abortion funding ban in the legislation would be harmful women who desired to obtain an abortion.

“If Democrats actually vote to filibuster help for oppressed victims of modern slavery … I can’t imagine the American people will forget it,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stated.

Democratic opposition to the Hyde Amendment-type ban culminated on Tuesday.

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“If we’re speaking for those who have been the victims of human trafficking, we ought to listen to them,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “This (abortion funding ban) is not something they’re asking for.”

“I support the rest of this bill,” he stated. “Take this [abortion] provision out.”

But Republicans asserted that that the abortion language would not stop women from obtaining abortions as those who are trafficked would be considered rape victims, and the bill provides an exception for rape. While lawmakers provided the exception, many pro-life leaders do not believe that there should ever be an allowance for abortion under any circumstance.

Because Democrats continued to express opposition to the inclusion of the statute in the trafficking bill, the Senate fell short of the 60 votes needed to move the measure forward. Lawmakers voted 55-43 to end discussion over the matter and shelve the legislation.

Four Democratic Senators sided with Republicans in voting to keep the bill alive: Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.).

Similar legislation had passed in the House of Representatives, but it did not include any language surrounding abortion.


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  • TheBBP

    Isn’t it funny that their battle cry is always “What about in the cases of rape!?” in their desire to fund the murders of babies, but when something that comes through that denies funds for abortions except for in instances of rape that it is still not enough for them?

  • Harry Oh!

    The main push by liberal, atheists over the last 50 years has simply been this; do not limit yourself sexually to anyone or anything and if you happen to get into trouble as a result of your bad decisions, there are lots of safety needs available so you won’t suffer any consequences. They try to dress it up and sell it to the gullible public as; woman’s health, equal rights, civil rights, anti-discrimination, etc. and of course they also have to stomp out that pesky judgement thing and get rid of Christianity at the same time. Then they can finally live in peace and harmony…right before the flames come.

  • Peter Leh

    why can we do both?

    a bill for human trafficking and for abortion.

    apparently the repubs want neither?

  • Marvels of life

    I have to agree with the Dem’s on this one. We need a bill like this after hearing that women are abducted at NFL football games for the purpose of human trafficking or what I would call slavery. Why would the Rep’s hide abortion services to such a bill. That is a separate issue except in the case of a woman getting pregnant from such a heinous act as human trafficking is. I hope they reconsider. I don’t support abortion except under the provisions mentioned, but that is a separate issue to me. Certainly Jesus would take exception to such things. I don’t think some people understand the trama that these women are going through. I always hope adoption or caring for a baby is the first decision but I sympathize with women that have to make these kinds of choices after being brutally used.