The Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act creates a fund for victims and provides grants to help local governments create programs that will benefit victims and prosecute human traffickers. On its face, this is a bill that deserves the bipartisan support it had until Democrats found out that Republicans added Hyde Language (anti-abortion language) to the bill without their knowledge. The problem is that Republicans did what Republicans do. They said one thing and did another. In this case, they said the Hyde Amendment would be excluded from this bill then they included it – without telling Democrats.
Moreover, Senator Dick Durbin says, the inclusion of the Hyde language is in direct contradiction to an agreement the two political parties made a year ago.
Senator Durbin told Politico: “there was a representation made” that the Hyde language would be excluded from the bill.
Senator Chuck Schumer said that a list of changes to the version of the trafficking bill that was passed in committee last year was provided to Senators. Surprise! The Hyde language wasn’t among those provisions. Somehow, it just popped into the law like magic.
Of course, John Cornyn insisted that Democrats are making much ado about nothing. He also went on to suggest the language was always there, Democrats just didn’t notice it. Oh and besides, the Hyde language is standard stuff.
“All this does is maintain the status quo by making sure that this crime victims compensation fund, the funds available from that fund, are constrained by the same constraint that exists under all other federal law,”
However, as Democrats pointed out the inclusion of Hyde language in this case, actually amounts to a sneaky way of expanding restrictions on women’s reproductive rights, this time in the case of women and girls who were forced into sex slavery. One reason is money for the restitution fund comes from fines, not taxes.
However, there is another feature in this bill that, contrary to Cornyn’s claim is not about merely maintaining the status quo. Cornyn’s bill authorizes the abortion restrictions for five years – without congressional review. Usually, when the Hyde Amended is attached to an appropriation bill, those are approved annually.
Nothing says let’s get the bad guys like forcing victims of human trafficking to bear children conceived through a sex crime with the added bonus of authorizing this restriction for five years.
It’s such a wonderful way to celebrate women’s history month too.
Democrats are less than pleased by the Republican deceptions. Though when we consider the fact that Republicans are now in the business of sabotaging sensitive diplomatic negotiations, this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Ok, I digress.
A bill intended to help survivors of human trafficking, in fact, has the very real potential of hurting and possibly killing them because it denies them access to safe and legal abortions.
As Cecil Richards said: ”The majority of human trafficking victims are women and girls, and they need access to the full range of reproductive health care services without barriers.”
Senator Patty Murray described the Republican shenanigans as “shameful.”
Harry Reid, made it abundantly clear that Republicans are not going to get away with shafting victims of crime in the name of continuing their ideological war on women.
“You can blame it on staff, blame it on whoever you want to blame,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday. “But we didn’t know it was in the bill, and … the bill will not come off this floor as long as that language is in the bill.”
When the bill passed in committee last month, John Cornyn said the following:
“Too often we see partisan politics divide Congress, but today as we move forward with a bill to eliminate human trafficking, we see that doesn’t always have to be the case,”
Of course not, as long as Republican ideology comes first. The fact is, Republicans can’t help themselves. Their ideology will always be the first priority especially when it comes to women’s reproductive health.