June 26, 2012
I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper. So spoke Abraham Lincoln as he signed the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago this year. At the close of the Civil War a few years after the proclamation was issued, slavery was abolished on American soil.
But the story of the slave does not end there.
Now, 150 years of remarkable technological development later, human trafficking, often called modern day slavery, holds 27 million men, women, and children captive to its grasp. The U.S. State Departments 2012 Trafficking in Human Persons Report was released on June 19th at a ceremony in Washington. Dignitaries and speakers at the event included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Maria Otero; and Ambassador-at-Large, Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis C. deBaca. All three praised the improvements made in the past year in countries imposing stricter policies against human trafficking. They highlighted the human element in the numbers, reminding people that the fight to end modern day slavery is about faces, not statistics.
Both the speakers and the report acknowledge that in addition to the need to go after the perpetrators of human trafficking, much is needed in the area of support and care for the victims. According to the report:
Because this crime undermines the most basic human rights, protection services must be considered just as important as investigating and prosecuting the offenders... If governments fail to provide comprehensive protection as a complement to prevention and prosecution efforts, they risk deepening, rather than alleviating, the original harm.
Secretary Clinton also said in her remarks: ...in this years report, we are especially focused on that third P, victim protection. She went on to say that fighting to end modern day slavery is a high priority for President Obama and the Obama Administration. Its something that is not just political and not just a policy, but very personal and very deep.
Unfortunately, there is a political component to the Obama Administrations fight against slavery. When it comes down to choosing to support victims of human trafficking or abortion providers, the Administration chooses abortion.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awards grant money to organizations combating human trafficking and offering support to victims. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), a five-year recipient of the funding, has an Anti-Trafficking Services Program through its Migration and Refugee Services division, which has proven highly effective for more than ten years. Despite this programs proven track record of helping people escape slavery and start a new life, when the USCCB re-applied for grant funding in 2011, the application was denied. The only explainable reason? The program fails to offer victims sterilization, contraception, and abortion. In their own words:
We believe despite submission of a proposal that built off the success of our prior work and offered value-added elements based on observed trends and quality improvement strategies, we were not granted a new award based solely on the issue of our willingness to pay for abortion or contraception, or make referrals for certain reproductive health services.
The Obama Administration would sooner spurn an organization rescuing lives out of slavery then deny those ending life the opportunity for more clients. Not only does this blatantly communicate to the victims of trafficking that their support comes second to that of abortion providers, but it completely disregards the important fact that abortion clinics frequently side with the trafficker, pimp, and sex abuser against the victim.
Especially in the developing world, but also here in the U.S.for the pimp running a brothel, pregnancies mean money lost and must be dealt with through abortion so the girl can get back to work. This equates to steady customers for the neighborhood abortion clinic, many of which have been documented not only to cover up the crimes against these sex slaves, but even to advise the abuser how to run his business. Last year, FRC explored in greater depth the connection between abortion providers to human trafficking here in the US in a webcast (viewable here). The results were shocking. Victims of modern day slavery are in need of real support not found in abortion clinics.
The problem of human trafficking is not limited to poor countries or the urban areas of the developing world. It happens here at home, as well. In light of that, many state governments have taken steps to fight human trafficking and support victims at the local level. At least 68 bills combating human trafficking have been introduced in 26 states this year. Fourteen of those have already passed into law and three more are awaiting governors signatures. One of those three is Ohios HB262. It is a broad-scale bill encompassing increased penalties for human traffickers, greater education for officers and those at risk for trafficking, and increased support measures for victims of human trafficking. The bill passed the legislature on June 20th and is awaiting action by Buckeye state Governor Kasich.
Our country should continue to take action to help victims of modern day slavery by engaging in the legislative process, supporting involved ministries, working internationally through State Department advocacy and diplomacy, and certainly through our prayers. We must not allow abortion to be the modern day slave master.