January 28, 2015

TO: Senate Judiciary Committee
FROM: Stacey Pfliiger, Associate
SUBJ: Senate Bill 2107 - Human Trafficking

Chairman Hogue and Members of the Committee, my name is Stacey Pfliiger and I am here on behalf of the North Dakota Catholic Conference. The North Dakota Catholic Conference supports SB 2107 and urges a do pass recommendation.

The Catholic Church’s opposition to human trafficking is rooted in the principles of Catholic social teaching. It [human trafficking] is an offense against the fundamental dignity of the human person. We are here today to advocate for an end to this modern day slavery.

Human trafficking is knowingly engaging in the recruitment, transportation, harboring, receiving, isolating, obtaining, or the enticing of a person by force, fraud, coercion, or deceit for the purpose of forced labor or sexual servitude. These acts violate the dignity of the human person and are clearly crimes against humanity.

Victims of human trafficking are often lured by traffickers with false promises. False promises of education, financial security, and even love. Victims are very often poor, desperate, and oppressed. They often suffer physical, mental, and psychological abuse not only at the hands of their trafficker, but also at the hands of their ‘johns’ and even other victims as they all struggle to survive.

In addition, we as a society must also work toward changing attitudes. Whenever people engage in sexual servitude or turn away from unjust working conditions, they too contribute to the environment that allows human trafficking to flourish. These actions ultimately impact real people and violate the dignity of a child of God.

In keeping with the tradition of the State of North Dakota to protect every human life, the North Dakota Catholic Conference urges a DO PASS recommendation on Senate Bill 2107.

[Ms. Pfliiger also added the following to her written testimony: "To ensure that state-funded victim services are conducted in a manner consistent with our state’s values, the North Dakota Catholic Conference asks that Senate Bill 2107 be amended to ensure that state taxpayer dollars are not used in the program to counsel or refer for abortions. Current law contains a general prohibition on using state funds to pay for the performance of an abortion, but the restrictions on the use of state funds for counseling and referrals are piecemeal and apply only to specific programs. To make the services created through SB 2107 consistent with those other provisions, an amendment to the bill is needed."]