Senate Democrats Pick Abortion Fight Over Sex Trafficking Victims

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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter
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Senate Democrats voted again to block an anti-human trafficking bill Tuesday, demonstrating a continued commitment to prioritizing abortion politics over help for victims of human trafficking.

Although 13 Democrats originally cosponsored the bill, and it passed unanimously through the Judiciary Committee in February, they are now blocking the bill to secure abortion funds for the victims.

But the language they take issue with would only prevent women from using the compensation they receive from a federal compensation fund (paid into by the perpetrators of the crime) to get an abortion if they have not been the victim of sexual assault.

Since human trafficking often includes forced sex-work, and so a form a rape, pregnant victims would not be likely to run into problems using appropriated funds to terminate a pregnancy.

The language in the bill has been a standard addition for decades. It bans federal funding of abortions, except in cases of rape and incest, or if the life of the mother is certifiably in danger. The only difference between this bill and past bills with the abortion language, which Democrats accepted and passed, is that the funds aren’t technically taxpayer dollars.

It’s this technicality that Democrats call “an expansion” of anti-abortion legislation.

Because the federal money in this case would come from a compensation fund paid into by those convicted of trafficking crimes, they argue it is not technically taxpayer dollars. And therefore this bill is an unacceptable expansion of abortion restrictions.

Democrats didn’t notice the language was in the bill until after they voted unanimously to bring it to the floor last week, and are now refusing to allow it to move forward until the language is removed. (RELATED: Dems Remember To Read Bill They’re Pushing, Throw A fit)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he will not remove the language, and will continue to postpone a confirmation vote on Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, until Democrats allow the human trafficking bill to move forward. (RELATED: Jeff Sessions: Why Conservatives CAN’T Support Loretta Lynch)

However Democratic senators Joe Donnelly, Bob Casey, Joe Manchin, and Heidi Heitkamp did break from the party to support the bill in Tuesday’s vote. Casey and Heitkamp are cosponsors.  (RELATED: The Real, And Embarrassing, Reason The Human Trafficking Bill Imploded)

Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who sponsored the bill, and others have accused Democrats of deliberately picking a fight on this for political points.

Lauren Fox of National Journal notes that Republicans are “desperate to avoid caving to Democrats once again in their new majority,” and understandably so, as Obama’s senior adviser gloats to the Wall Street Journal that Republicans have “failed to put points on the board.”

It would seem that Dems think they’ve been scoring all the points, and Cornyn says that’s what they’re looking to do here.

“They really don’t want the Senate to be able to function,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor Tuesday following the vote. “What they want to do is have the talking point that after the last election nothing has really changed in the Senate.”

A spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid insists that’s not the case.

“Contrary to how Republicans behaved, we are working across party lines to quickly pass bills that have broad bipartisan support, as long as they aren’t being used to jam through political poison pills like abortion language,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

For the bill to advance to the floor for debate on amendments and a vote, two more Democrats would have to break from their caucus and vote in support of the bill.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.