It is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Congressman Chris Smith has been an advocate in the fight against human trafficking, which is a noble pursuit. He has won accolades for his work on the issue. Unfortunately, for victims of human trafficking, Smith’s support is ambiguous and hurts the women he has professed to protect.
Last year, as chair of the Pro-Life Caucus, Smith participated in hijacking the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (S. 178) in an attempt to restrict survivors’ access to abortion services. This bipartisan Senate legislation seeks to support human trafficking survivors by securing their access to important victim’s services.
The legislation orders criminals convicted of sex trafficking to pay fines that are put into a fund to assist survivors. It is not a pool of government money. However, a provision added at the last minute would deny these victims of sex-trafficking from using the funds for the full range of reproductive health options, specifically targeting abortion.
Over half of the victims of human and sex trafficking are women and young girls. Like victims of rape and assault, the survivors need access to all of the reproductive health options available to them, and should not be limited by the personal and devout views of politicians like Smith.
Human trafficking survivors need access to health care and support, not road-blocks to their recovery. If Smith really wants to help women, he must allow them to control their bodies.
This letter also appeared in the Asbury Park Press.