Right now, the Senate is deadlocked over an anti-abortion restriction in a human trafficking bill that would block victims from using funds granted to them on abortion procedures. Both sides have accused the other of turning the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, HR 181, into an abortion debate, with Democrats in the Senate claiming it's another ploy to expand abortion restrictions — but this time, the health of human trafficking victims is in jeopardy. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have charged Democrats with politicizing what was once a bipartisan bill.
Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate won't move forward on confirming the nomination of Loretta Lynch to attorney general until the human trafficking bill is resolved. “If they want to have time to turn to the attorney general, we have to finish the human trafficking bill," McConnell said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.
Of course, that most likely means the Democrats will have to suck it up and approve of the anti-abortion provision. But on Tuesday, the Senate remained at an impasse as the human trafficking bill with the anti-abortion restriction failed to garner 60 "yea's" in a cloture vote.
The bill's contentious abortion ban applies the language of the Hyde Amendment to the money in the would-be created victims' fund. The Hyde Amendment bars federal taxpayer funding from going toward abortion, except for cases of rape, incest, or when a woman's life is at risk. Problem, is the victims' fund will not be composed of taxpayer dollars, but fines collected from convicted traffickers.
"The provision that Sen. McConnell so dismissively and cavalierly referred to as 'boilerplate' hurts women across the country, denying those struggling to make ends meet from accessing safe and legal abortion," Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards said Sunday in a statement. "Not only would the trafficking bill apply that harmful provision to women who have been victims of trafficking, but it would go even farther in restricting new funding."
As the Senate heads back to the drawing board, here's how you can lobby your senators to pass the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act — without any reproductive health restrictions — and help human trafficking victims…
Tweet With The #StrikeTheBan Campaign
Reproductive rights organizations such as NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, the National Partnership for Women & Families, and the All* Above All coalition have begun tweeting under the #striketheban hashtag. Use the hashtag to urge Republican Senators to pass a clean bill and tweet facts about the harms of human trafficking and abortion bans.
Sign A Reproductive Health Petition
Many reproductive health organizations have also begun lobbying the Senate with petitions directed at the bill's sponsor, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), and his fellow Republicans. You can sign a petition with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the National Partnership for Women & Families, and All* Above All.
Donate, Donate, Donate
If you have some extra cash leftover from your tax return, then consider donating to one of the many human trafficking foundations here in the United States. There's the Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), UNICEF USA, or the Polaris Project.
You can also donate to the National Network of Abortion Funds, which helps cover the costs of procedures, travel and daycare for people seeking abortions. Abortion funds are currently located in more than 40 states.
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