Republicans in the U.S. Senate are displaying a strength and courage they rarely exhibit on the issue of abortion. They deserve our support.

The issue is a bill, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the Senate majority whip, that would crack down on those involved in human trafficking and provide funds for the rescue and assistance of their victims – often minors subjected to sexual enslavement.

One would think such legislation would enjoy universal, bipartisan support; and it probably would, but for the fact that it includes a provision barring use of any of those rescue and assistance funds to pay for abortions. Senate Democratic leaders are therefore opposed to it – and while they claim that the pro-life provision is an attempt by Republicans to politicize the human trafficking bill, it would appear that just the opposite is the case.

For as the conservative Republican website RedState points out, the inclusion of provisions blocking federal funds from being allocated for abortions has been standard practice in federal legislation dating back to 1976, when the Hyde Amendment first prohibited use of Health and Human Services (HHS) funds for abortions. When appropriated federal funds fall under other jurisdictions – the Department of Justice, in this instance – provisions are always needed, and have always been routinely adopted, to extend the Hyde Amendment’s ban on taxpayer funding for elective abortions. Clearly reflecting the will of a majority of Americans, majorities in Congress have always recognized that — no matter one’s feelings on the legality of abortion -– taxpayers should not be forced, in the name of “freedom of choice,” to pay for other people’s abortions.

Under the leadership of the Obama administration, however, pro-abortion Democrats have constantly been trying end runs around this well-established policy. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), as we have repeatedly noted in the pages of The Long Island Catholic, contains a number of provisions designed to require taxpayer funding of abortion. And, as points out, the Obama administration has at least twice before put promotion of abortion ahead of efforts to combat human trafficking.

In one instance, as reported in a TLIC editorial (July 11, 2012), the Obama administration withdrew a $19 million grant for the efforts of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to combat human trafficking – even though its own review process deemed the bishops’ program more effective than those of other programs – because the bishops would not include funding for abortions and contraception in their “services’ to trafficking victims. In the other instance, reports Lifenews, the administration refused “to investigate how Planned Parenthood abortion businesses covered up potential cases of sex trafficking.”

Lacking the votes to defeat the bill – even four Democratic Senators, Casey of Pennsylvania, Donnelly of Indiana, Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Manchin of West Virginia, are supporting it – Democrats are filibustering to keep it from coming to a vote.

In response, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has stated that the Senate will not vote on the confirmation of President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, until Democrats allow a vote on the human trafficking bill. As Lynch is African-American, Democratic Senate leaders have now resorted to accusing the Republicans of “back of the bus” racism, in the insidious words of Senate minority whip Richard Durbin (D-Illinois).

“Such inflammatory rhetoric has no place in this body, and serves no purpose other than to further divide us,” Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) appropriately responded. It is obviously a smoke screen to deflect attention from what Students for Life of America president Kristen Hawkins correctly termed “a stunning display” by “the abortion lobby and their allies in the Senate” of “protecting abortion at all costs” – even the cost of “defend(ing) victims – women and little girls – of sex trafficking.”

Even Republicans who support Ms. Lynch’s confirmation — like Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who voted in committee to confirm her – endorse Sen. McConnell’s insistence that the Senate be allowed to vote on the human trafficking bill before taking up the Lynch nomination.

“The leader is right,” Hatch said. “He sees them playing a pure political ploy to satisfy Planned Parenthood and NARAL and abortion rights activists. And he can’t let them get away with that.”



Rick Hinshaw is editor of The Long Island Catholic