Bioethics Blogs

Resolution on the Human Trafficking Bill

Wednesday’s Wall Street Journalreports that the Senate has reached a resolution of the impasse on the human trafficking bill.  I must say I rather expected this.  The resolution clears the way for the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General.  The Senate Republican leadership had been holding that vote “hostage” as leverage for an acceptable resolution on the trafficking bill.  It was never about Ms. Lynch.

The issue, of course, was the application of the four-decade-old Hyde amendment, prohibiting federal funds to be used for abortion, and routinely attached to spending bills since then.  I believe there are indirect ways around Hyde; note for example that when the Affordable Care Act was in committee in 2009 an amendment to exclude abortion from federally-subsidized health insurance coverage failed.  But, as the Journal’s report clearly indicates, both sides were seeking new ground with Hyde.  The anti-abortion side wanted to extend it, while the pro-abortion side wants to eliminate it. 

In the compromise, funding for legal assistance to trafficking victims will be separated from their health care, which will be routed through federally funded community health centers that would receive additional monies under the new bill.  Those health centers conceivably could provide abortion services, but it appears the bill will simply look the other way in that regard.  This apparently would not change the status quo for the community health centers.

Both sides of the lawmaking aisle and both sides of activists appear to find this path forward acceptable.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.