Language added in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would allow a single nonprofit organization to have control of $37.5 million for international sex trafficking grants with little oversight and no guarantees that the funds will not be used to promote and perform abortions.
Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, says that while her organization wants to see an end to sex trafficking and modern slavery, the addition of the language to the measure setting up just one non-governmental organization (NGO) to control millions of dollars without any protections for the sanctity of human life is alarming.
“All people of good will know that sex trafficking, forced labor, and other modern forms of slavery are an affront to basic human dignity,” Mancini said in a statement, adding:
However, as the language currently stands, likely recipients of this funding would be big abortion businesses rather than groups solely dedicated to fighting the scourge of trafficking. These grantees would have very little oversight and will potentially promote and even perform abortion under this granting mechanism.
The language of concern states:
(f) Authorization of Appropriateness for Fiscal Years 2017 Through 2022 – There is authorized to be appropriated to the Department of State for the purpose of making the grants authorized under this section to a single nonprofit organization, for each fiscal year from 2017 through 2022, $37,500,000.
Senate Armed Services chairman Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) included the new language in NDAA at the request of Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who is whipping up bipartisan support for his bill called the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act (EMSI).
As The Hill reported in February of 2015, the measure creates a public-private funding initiative, the goal of which is to end human trafficking around the world.
Some constitutionalists, however, argue that Corker’s measure would duplicate existing programs and would not protect the funds’ use from abortions for victims of human trafficking.
“There are real concerns that the bill lacks sufficient pro-life statutory protections and would create a foundation that could use non-federal donations to fund groups that provide abortions,” a senior Republican aide recently told The Daily Signal.
The Conservative Action Project (CAP), a coalition of 70 conservative leaders originally brought together by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, released a “Memo for the Movement” in April that urges Congress to demand that existing laws be enforced to end human trafficking and that any legislation guarantee the protection of all human life.
According to the memo:
The United States should take two particular steps to combat modern slavery. First, the U.S. should ensure that no U.S. taxpayer funds are paid to those who may be complicit in perpetuating trafficking. … Second, the U.S. should ensure that the taxpayers’ money is used in ways that respect the inherent dignity and right to life of every human being. The U.S. should ensure, therefore, that no funds from any U.S. government program established to combat human trafficking are used to perform an abortion, or to assist in or facilitate an abortion, or to coerce any person into performing, assisting, or facilitating an abortion…
While the portion of the funding from the U.S. government would be covered by existing statutory prohibitions on U.S. Government monies’ being used to fund abortions, the funding from other governments and from private individuals would not be subject to the prohibition. Therefore, in order to be truly effective in the fight against human trafficking and its related evils, the language in the legislation should be strengthened by including a provision to protect human life.
According to the Daily Signal, however, Corker’s aide says there is no conflict regarding an abortion prohibition.
“All the funds authorized in the amended version of S.553 will flow through the appropriations process, which [is] fully covered by the Helms restriction,” the aide said, citing the 1973 amendment, named for the late Sen. Jesse Helms, that states, “No foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.”
Nevertheless, Sarah Torre – a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation – says, “The fight against trafficking is rooted in the principle of the dignity of every human life.”
She told the Daily Signal:
That principle should not be overlooked when it comes to caring for pregnant women who are the victims of trafficking and their unborn children. To do so would be to undermine the sound moral framework on which the anti-trafficking movement rests. Efforts to address human trafficking should align with that principle, ensuring that neither taxpayer funds nor funds from any organization or program established by Congress can be used to take innocent human lives.
EMSI would seek to raise $1.5 billion to combat human trafficking, with more than 80 percent to come from matching funds from the private sector and foreign governments that would not be bound by the Helms prohibition.
The language in Corker’s bill is the subject of concern for some fellow Republicans such as Sens. Mike Lee (UT), Ted Cruz (TX), and James Lankford (OK) – who have reportedly questioned the use of funds for abortions. Liberal media have pounced upon the senators’ objections, attempting to create the narrative that they are opposed to ending human trafficking:
Why Ted Cruz and two other Republican senators are holding up an anti-slavery bill https://t.co/BKVRnWttk2
— TIME.com (@TIME) April 15, 2016
— Mediaite TV (@MediaiteTV) April 15, 2016
Lee proposed an amendment to EMSI that would block “any nonprofit or entity receiving funds from the foundation (including any subgrantees of such an organization or entity) to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortion.”
Corker, however, refused to accept the amendment, arguing it was not necessary.
“I have no doubt Senators McCain and Corker truly want to end the atrocities connected to trafficking,” Mancini states. “But good intentions do not always translate to good policy. Legislative efforts to fight trafficking must include oversight and pro-life protections if they are to be regarded as serious, and potentially effective, efforts to combat human trafficking.”