On January 13, Republican Senator John Cornyn introduced the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, legislation that would “create a federal fund for victims’ services and law enforcement tools financed by fines levied on convicted traffickers,” as U.S. News & World Report succinctly described it.
While victims of sex trafficking have been widely promoted as benefactors of this bill, victims of labor trafficking are also protected, one of a couple of important points.
The bill was sailing toward smooth bipartisan passage until March 17, when Democrats suddenly claimed to have discovered hidden anti-abortion language in the same bill many of them (including top Dem dogs Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer) had already approved in committee.
Within a day that story fell apart.
So, what we really had here was either Minority Leader Harry Reid attempting to reassert his manhood into a process that was running way too efficiently under Republican tutelage, or pro-abortion groups laying down the law.
The latter is more likely.
What might have stirred the wrath of pro-abortion groups?
The Trafficking Act uses the same anti-abortion language as the 39-yr-0ld Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal funds from paying for abortions except in the cases of rape/incest. This verbiage was thought to be noncontroversial, since Hyde has been approved annually on a bipartisan basis for decades.
And therein lies the rub. The Hyde Amendment isn’t permanent law. Congress must sanction it each year.
But the Trafficking Act has a duration of five years, until 2019, which is why the Hyde language had to be added to it.
Pro-aborts saw this as an expansion of Hyde, a precedent.
Democrats additionally accused Republicans of expanding on Hyde by applying it in this bill to funds collected in part from private sources – convicted traffickers – when Hyde only applies to federal funds.
This is ludicrous, of course, because most federal funds are collected from private sources – taxes, user fees, premiums, etc. Once the government has our money it becomes part of the federal pool.
Which brings us to how a “compromise” was reached that allowed Democrats to save face. Read this quote from Politico carefully:
The strain of the episode took a toll on Democrats….
It took six weeks, but Democratic leaders ended up cutting a face-saving deal Tuesday….
The restitution fund now has two revenue streams, one from traffickers and another from the federal government’s general fund. The money from traffickers can’t be used for medical procedures, while the general fund money is subject to Hyde Amendment restrictions on abortion, like all other federal spending.
In other words, none of the Trafficking Act funds can be used for abortion. But don’t take my word for it. From Jezebel:
In other words, then, none of the money can legally be used for abortion care. That really doesn’t look like a compromise.
“I don’t know that there’s much difference from what was proposed earlier,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) said….
Even NARAL’s gobbledygook attempt to claim victory still admitted defeat:
A compromise was reportedly reached to deny expansion of the unjust Hyde amendment to a private fund for the first time….
While this is a stunning loss that should serve as a strong lesson to the anti-choice zealots who repeatedly attach unjust abortion regulations to any legislation concerning women’s health, today’s tragic loss is for human and sex trafficking victims – women and girls – who will regrettably be denied full reproductive health care access as a result of today’s compromise.
In other words, we won.
One final point. Had there been no Hyde Amendment in the Trafficking Act, abortion funding would have been available to labor trafficking victims as well as sex trafficking victims, and for all five years – the duration of the Act.
So, by no means would abortion funding have been limited to pregnant victims of sex trafficking. It would have been available to trafficked victims where there was no sex crime involved at all, or to women who were subsequently in consensual relationships, perhaps four years down the road but still part of the program, such as in job training.
That’s the real reason pro-aborts wanted this amendment gone. The Act would have otherwise expanded federal funding of abortion.
Kudos to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for standing firm, going so far as to hold up the nomination of Loretta Lynch for Attorney General. Kudos also to Senator Cornyn.
[HT: Chicken Man]