By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
May 16, 2013
RALEIGH — Tar Heel senators passed a couple of key bills this past week, taking aim at sex traffickers and also trying to ensure that students get information they need regarding abortion.
Sex traffickers are still in the crosshairs of North Carolina lawmakers as the Senate voted unanimously Monday to approve the second of a number of bills proposed this session to try to bring the Tar Heel state off the top 10 list in the nation for the crime.
Sen. Thom Goolsby (R-New Hanover), who frequently reminds lawmakers that North Carolina is currently number eight on that “list of shame,” called S 683 a comprehensive bill. Among other things, the Safe Harbor/Victims of Human Trafficking law would increase the punishment for involuntary servitude, establish a first-offender conditional discharge program for prostitutes, treat minor prostitutes as victims, and increase the punishment for solicitation for prostitution and for soliciting a minor, Sen. Goolsby said.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said his hope is that the bill will win favor in the House so the law can serve as a lifeline to young girls caught up in this horrible crime.
“The Christian Action League has worked closely with victims’ assistance groups and other agencies across the state to research and lobby for this issue, so we’re thrilled to see these bills move,” Dr. Creech said. “It is often faith-based organizations that come to the aid of sex-trafficking victims when they do get a chance to break free. This bill will ensure that these young girls are treated with care and not criminalized.”
The 15-page bill would make minors immune from prosecution for prostitution. Instead those under 18 would be subject to temporary protective custody while the Department of Social Services investigates. Pimps and johns and anyone “promoting prostitution” as defined by the bill would face stiff penalties.
Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed a law that required anyone convicted of human trafficking to be added to the state’s sex offender registry. A bill similar to the Safe Harbor Act (H 855 Human Trafficking) passed the House on Wednesday.
This bill would ensure that students are informed about the preventable causes of preterm birth, including abortion as a cause of preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies.
Approved 41 to 5 on second reading May 9, the bill came back to the Senate floor Monday night as Sen. Ellie Kinnaird (D-Chatham) had objected to third reading and planned to propose an amendment which could have added another cause of preterm abortion to the list of those presented to students. But on Monday she told fellow lawmakers she would not seek an amendment and could not support the bill because she didn’t believe it was based on factual information.
The Senate’s Health Committee had heard from a pair of medical experts who disagreed on whether abortion causes preterm birth in later pregnancies. But Sen. Warren Daniel (R-Burke) read to the Senate a portion of a medical waiver that women seeking abortion are asked to sign in some clinics.
The document, obtained by the Department of Health and Human Services from the Family Reproductive Health Clinic in Charlotte, included a section on cervical incompetence and stated, “I understand that the abortion procedure or repeated abortion procedures may result in cervical incompetency, which means that I may have problems maintaining a pregnancy in the future, possible miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight, premature delivery or other complications in the pregnancy.”
“If the abortion clinics of North Carolina are making their clients sign this type of a waiver, then it is appropriate for us to teach it to our children in the public schools,” Rep. Daniel contended.
The bill passed, 38 to 10, and has been referred to the House Committee on Health and Human Services.