Former Bush Official: Trafficking Victims Don’t Need Access To Reproductive Health Services

The reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act has stalled thanks to a fight over "conscience clauses."

Score another one for women’s and girl’s health being held hostage over the whims of the Unisted State Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Not content to try to mandate who should and shouldn’t be allowed access to birth control and abortion in the mainstream of America, they are pursuading lawmakers to continue holding up the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which usually passes with bipartisan support.  Their complaint? They were denied funds through the program because they wouldn’t offer contraception or abortion to those who were victims of the trade.

You would think that allowing women and even girls who have been coerced into trafficking the tools they need to end unwanted pregnancies or to prevent them in the first place would be something everyone could agree on.

You would be wrong.  Via WBIR.com:

Steven Wagner, who ran the HHS anti-trafficking program for three years during President George W. Bush’s administration, said he opposes shifting the funding to the Justice Department, which focuses more on prosecuting traffickers than on helping victims.

But he said congressional Republicans aren’t to blame for the delay in reauthorizing the anti-trafficking law. Rather, he said the responsibility lies with HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who “destroyed the bipartisan consensus.”

“I don’t think the role of the federal government in helping a victim regain control over their lives is to help them get an abortion or contraception,” he said, adding that other organizations can guide victims to those services if that’s what a victim wants.

It’s a shame that alleviating the suffering of women and girls doesn’t weigh on the Bishops and the lawmakers’ consciences every now and then, too.