North Dakota Human Trafficking Bill also Tied Up over Abortion

Earlier today, I wrote about how language dealing abortion in the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act scuttled the bill. A similar situation is playing out in North Dakota, too.

The oil fields of North Dakota have been an economic Promised Land for job seekers across the United States. Indeed, by the most up-to-date numbers, North Dakota still has the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 2.8% as of December 2014, per the BLS. Many of these jobseekers are single men, of course, and unfortunately because of this, human trafficking is depressingly prevalent in the region.*

Last Sunday, the Associated Press published an excellent video explaining the problem succinctly:

The North Dakota Legislative Assembly is currently considering a bill, SB 2107, to help address this problem. Like the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, it too has language in it preventing state funds from being used for abortions, and leftwingers in the state are not happy about it. This article from the Bismarck Tribune sums up what’s going on:

Some women’s advocates complain that a “gag” provision was inserted into a bill to bar state money from being used to “refer for or counsel” human trafficking victims “in favor of abortion.”

The amended bill, a uniform bill to curb human trafficking, passed the North Dakota Senate on a unanimous vote and next will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee.

Opponents of the amendment are rallying their supporters to try to strip the amendment from the bill in the House.

The amendment, one of about seven changes made to the bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee, was proposed by the North Dakota Catholic Conference, which represents the dioceses of Fargo and Bismarck, said Sen. David Hogue, R-Minot, who is chairman of the committee and presented them to the panel.

Local columnist Jane Ahlin is among those leading the charge for the Left opposing the anti-abortion amendment in this bill. She goes as far as calling concerns over paying for abortion as “garbage-talk” in one of her columns. Linda Thorson, the interim state director for North Dakota’s branch of Concerned Women for America, is having none of it:

Actually, it’s not garbage to believe all life matters. Babies in the womb are precious’ and mothers need informed choice. That is why I can agree with Ahlin’s statement that “victims of trafficking need compassion, complete information, and supportive services to start life again with a new directions.” Complete information includes counseling that acknowledges the medical facts about the child in the womb and the harm done to the woman.

Though the North Dakota Left wants to call it a “gag provision”, there’s nothing in the bill that prevents anyone, in the Legislative Assembly or outside of it, from discussing abortion. It merely prevents state funds from being used to provide abortion. While people like Ahlin might dismiss the necessity of an amendment like this since it is such a common addition to bills, it is critically important for this kind of language to be added to bills when we live under the most aggressively pro-abortion presidential administration in history. Christopher Dodson, director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, explains it well:

Why is this an issue? Because abortion advocates already persuaded the Obama administration to deny qualified anti-human trafficking organizations federal assistance to help victims solely because the organizations would not counsel in favor of abortion. The North Dakota Senate added the language in SB 2107 to make sure something like that did not happen here. It preserves the status quo on the use of tax dollars for abortion-related activities and allows the state to focus on stopping human trafficking.

It is crucial that North Dakota passes a this bill, the full text of which you can read in PDF form at the North Dakota legislature’s website. The Bakken oil shale should not be a haven for human traffickers to ply their illegal trade. We should stand up to this state-level incidence of what has just happened in the US Senate. We cannot let Democrats get away with throwing victims of human trafficking under the bus in pursuit of a radical pro-abortion agenda. North Dakotans, don’t let this amendment be stripped from the bill.

*=While we are talking about sex slavery in North Dakota, the efforts of a woman named Windie Lazenko, herself a victim and a former stripper and prostitute, to fight human trafficking in the state have been getting some much needed coverage in the media lately. Check out this article and accompanying video from CNBC to read more about her story.