Tag Archives: Reproductive Rights

Where Are We With Human Trafficking Legislation?

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S. 178), a bill to enhance protections and increase the infrastructure around restitution for victims of human trafficking. The vote was nearly unanimous, with all but three present Representatives voting in favor of the bill, which was identical to the version the Senate passed a few weeks prior. The bill moves now to the President, who is expected to sign it into law.

You may remember the heated debate over an anti-abortion provision that first drew attention to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. One key feature of the bill is the establishment of a Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund to provide financial support to individuals as they rebuild their lives after having been trafficked. When it first came up in the Senate, the bill had strong, bipartisan support, a rare instance in which members of Congress were united across the ideological spectrum. The bill passed swiftly through procedural steps and seemed poised for easy passage. As a vote neared, however, it came to light that language had been added to restrict trafficking victims from accessing abortion services if they were going to use help from the victim assistance fund.

The anti-choice provision mirrored language in the Hyde Amendment (a prohibition on taxpayer funding for abortion that affects all federally-administered health-care plans like Medicaid), and would create a harmful barrier between survivors of domestic trafficking and the comprehensive health care they need. The provision in the trafficking bill sought to expand the Hyde Amendment’s attack on reproductive rights by restricting money from the Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund—which is financed by penalties from convicted federal offenders, and not by tax dollars—from being used to help trafficking victims cover the cost of abortion, with exceptions only in cases of rape, incest or if the woman’s health is in danger.

Many in the reproductive rights and human trafficking advocacy communities expressed their dismay that anti-choice Senators inserted this restrictive language into the bill. A number of Senators withdrew their support from the bill, leaving it without enough votes to advance in that initial procedural vote. Subsequently, lawmakers reached an agreement so that no federal funding goes toward abortion, in accordance with the Hyde Amendment, while also not expanding the Hyde Amendment beyond its existing reach.

The Reform Movement takes pride in its long history of working to combat human trafficking and modern day slavery. We take to heart the call to remember that we were slaves in the land of Egypt and that no one else should be exploited as we once were. Maimonides, one of the greatest sages of our tradition, spoke on the importance of helping and freeing those enslaved in a lifestyle that is beyond their control. The redemption of captives takes precedence to clothing and providing for the poor; “as the captive is included in the category of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, and the one whose life is in danger,” there is no greater mitzvah than redeeming the captives.

church street and state street signs pointing in different directions

Sermons, Politics and the Constitution

On Wednesday, the Washington Post wrote about the topics most clergy members discuss from the pulpit as a way to illustrate that the issues most associated with communities of faith — reproductive rights and LGBT rights/same-sex marriage, due much in part to  the Religious Right — is not what is actually happening on the ground. Read more…

Support abortion access

The Fight Continues Against the 20-Week Ban

This week, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36), a dangerous bill that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of gestation with only narrow exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or if the woman’s life is in danger. Read more…

My Body My Decision

Breaking: House of Representatives Passes Dangerous Anti-Abortion Bill

Just now, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36), a dangerous bill that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, with only narrow exceptions in cases of rape or incest or to protect the woman’s life. The Reform Movement has long opposed this bill and others that undermine women’s fundamental dignity to make informed decisions about their own health. In advance of today’s vote, Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement: Read more…

L'Taken Participants on Capitol Hill with RAC Sign

Prepping for Consultation on Conscience: Advocacy 101

We’re excited to welcome our Consultation on Conscience participants to Washington, D.C. in just over a week! In addition to briefings with public policy decision makers and the Reform Movement’s own social action leaders, we’ll head to Capitol Hill for a lobby day, meeting with Senators and Representatives to lift up our Reform Jewish voices on key policy issues. Read more…

Image Courtesy of Hispanically Speaking News (HSN)

Extend Funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program

For over a decade, the RAC has been a strong supporter of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which provides health insurance coverage to children. Last month, the House passed a bipartisan bill, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which includes an extension of funding for CHIP, as well as a fix to the flawed Medicare physician payment formula. The Senate is likely to vote on the bill this week.

Read more…

Women's History Month

Women’s History Month: Celebrating Progress and Finding Inspiration for Action

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, let’s take stock of the progress—and the setbacks—we saw for women’s rights policy this month:

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9) reintroduced the International Violence Against Women Act, or I-VAWA (H.R. 1340), a bill to provide concrete tools to change the circumstances that lead to gender-based violence across the globe, including support for equal economic opportunity, access to education, legal accountability and public health services for survivors of violence. Urge your Members of Congress to support I-VAWA and to join the fight to end violence against women and girls across the globe. Read more…

Rosie the Riveter

Not Enough: The Ongoing Fight for Women’s Liberation

As a kid, “Dayenu” was perhaps my favorite Jewish holiday song. It’s catchy, it’s upbeat, and, if you sing the full 15 verses, it goes on forever. With “Dayenu,” we express our thanks for the myriad miracles that took place at the time of the Exodus. We sing that each was so powerful that one alone would have been enough. Read more…