You’d think the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act would do just that: give justice to the people forced into modern-day slavery. But Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) inserted an extreme anti-abortion restriction in the bill that rightly triggered outrage from pro-women’s health advocates in Congress and more than 220,000 people nationwide. In response, Cornyn made some superficial changes that he’s calling (ahem) a “compromise.”
NEWSFLASH: There really is no compromise if the abortion restrictions are still tucked into an otherwise bipartisan bill. Period.
Anti-women’s health politicians shouldn’t be taking a bill meant to protect trafficking victims and using it to hurt them.
The Back Story
In the past few months, anti-abortion politicians have been sneaking abortion restrictions into just about any legislation that crosses their desks — and they didn’t let the trafficking bill escape, either. It’s just one of nearly 30 attempts to restrict access to safe and legal abortion that they’ve made over the last three months in Congress.
What’s clear is that this is part of a broader agenda to interfere in women’s personal health care decisions that is playing out in states across the country, including in Senator Cornyn’s home state of Texas.
Trying to Make Things Right
So, what’s the solution? Planned Parenthood and other pro-women’s health groups called for a clean bill. A bill that would allow survivors of human trafficking to have access to the full range of reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortion.
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), along with fellow lawmakers who support both women’s health and commonsense laws (what a concept), swiftly offered an alternative to do just that. And another. And then another. They tried nine times.
But anti-abortion politicians rejected each amendment, each attempt at real compromise.
Spitting in Our Face & Calling It Rain
Now, here’s the kicker: Sen. Cornyn — the guy who inserted the abortion restrictions into the original bill — is now saying he made a compromise. But the reality remains that Sen. Cornyn's so-called "compromise" is actually an accounting gimmick, a way of manipulating money to show that he and his cronies are at least “pretending” to try.
The new language in the bill still expands the Hyde Amendment — a 40-year-old amendment that blocks federal funding for abortion for low-income women, except in very narrow circumstances. The bill also would apply Hyde restrictions to a new population of women.
He calls it “responding to” our concerns. We call it part of a broader agenda to interfere in women’s personal health care decisions.
But that’s not all. Republican leadership is saying this bill must pass with the anti-abortion measures intact, or else they will continue to hold up the historic nomination of Loretta Lynch as attorney general. That’s despite the fact that Lynch has a record of actually prosecuting traffickers.
In Case There Was Any Confusion:
Trafficking Victims Deserve Care, Not Political Attacks
To recap: A group of anti-women’s health politicians in the U.S. Senate have twisted a bill meant to protect victims of human trafficking into yet another attack on abortion access. They simply can’t sink any lower. These politicians are so blinded by their ideology that they’ll use absolutely anything as a weapon against women seeking abortion — including survivors of human trafficking.
Bottom line: These women and girls need compassion and support. What they don’t need are barriers, condemnation, and shame.