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Senate Blocks Federal Bill That Would Have Denied Survivors of Human Trafficking Safe and Legal Abortion

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WASHINGTON - Today 43 Senators stood up for women’s reproductive rights and blocked passage of legislation intended to help survivors of human trafficking that would have denied women access to safe and legal abortion.

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S 178), introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), would have established a fund to help survivors by using fines levied against traffickers. However, the bill included a provision that restricted money from that fund from being used for abortion care.

This bill had originally received bipartisan support and unanimously passed out of the Judiciary Committee last month. While the legislation took critical steps to combat human trafficking and to support survivors, anti-women lawmakers politicized the bill by sneaking in a provision to restrict abortion care. In an attempt to codify language found in the Hyde Amendment—a provision banning federal funding for abortion services with limited exceptions—and restrict the use of funds for trafficking survivors, this bill harmed the very women it is intended to help.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

"Survivors of human trafficking have dealt with the unfathomable, yet politicians wanted to add insult to injury by passing a bill that would limit their access to safe and legal abortion care.

“Playing politics with women’s access to reproductive health care is simply reprehensible.

“We commend the Senators that blocked this bill and urge Congress to now work to pass legislation that supports and protects the rights of human trafficking survivors without limiting their reproductive health choices.”


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The Center for Reproductive Rights uses the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill.

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