Christian Action League
October 2, 2013
By L.A. Williams
Senate Bill 683, Safe Harbor/Victims of Human Trafficking Act, passed unanimously by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in late July, is a step toward removing North Carolina from the list of top 10 states where sex trafficking of minors occurs.
“This is an issue that the Christian Action League has worked on for a number of years with lawmakers and victims’ assistance groups across the state,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, who called the Safe Harbor Law legislation “that we can all be proud of.”
In addition to helping to protect victims by offering deferred prosecution of first-time prostitution offenses related to commercial sex exploitation and eliminating mistake of age or consent of minors as grounds for defense, the law also requires convicted traffickers to compensate their victims. It makes pimping, engaging in sex with a prostitute and the second offense of solicitation all felony offenses and increases penalties for trafficking of both minors and adults.
“This new law treats those involved in perpetrating trafficking — whether pimps or johns — as the criminals that they are while making sure those forced into prostitution get the help they need as victims,” Dr. Creech said. “It gives them a Safe Harbor.”
He said the CAL was also happy to see the implementation of a new law, S 353, Health and Safety Law Changes, which makes it illegal for a doctor to knowingly carry out an abortion based on a baby’s gender.
“We understand that this practice happens more often in other countries than the United States, but we certainly are glad to see lawmakers make it clear that finding out a baby is the ‘wrong’ gender to suit his or her parents shouldn’t become a death sentence for that unborn child,” Dr. Creech said.
He also applauded other provisions in the law that will limit abortion coverage in insurance plans offered by cities and counties and require that abortion doctors be physically present for the entire surgical procedure and in the room when a patient is given an initial dose of an abortifacient.
Abortion rights advocates fought the law, claiming its higher standards for clinics, which will include rules just now being developed by the state Department of Health and Human Services, would put abortionists out of business. But supporters of the bill pointed out that standards had not been updated in years and many of the problems in clinics, discovered via inspections, needed to be addressed to ensure women’s safety.
“As egregious as abortion is, the wanton taking of innocent human life, while the practice remains legal, we have to make certain women who go into these clinics are not simply pushed through in assembly line fashion, but get safe and effective care,” Dr. Creech said.