To: House Human Services Committee From: Christopher T. Dodson, Executive Director Subject: Senate Bill 2275 Forced Abortion in Human Trafficking
March 17, 2015
The North Dakota Catholic Conference supports Senate Bill 2275.
Senate Bill 2275 would provide an enhanced penalty for a human trafficker if the trafficker forced or coerced a victim to have an abortion in the course of conducting the crime of trafficking.
There is compelling evidence that forced abortions occur in human trafficking.
  • A study published in the Annals of Health Law concluded “The prevalence of forced abortions is an especially disturbing trend in sex trafficking. Prior research noted that forced abortions were a reality for many victims of sex trafficking outside the United States and at least one study noted forced abortions in domestic trafficking. The survivors in this study similarly reported that they often did not freely choose the abortions they had while being trafficked.” One subject in the study stated: “in most of [my six abortions,] I was under serious pressure from my pimps to abort the babies.” Another subject reported seventeen abortions and that at least some of them were forced on her.1
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as identified the existence of forced abortions, and their complications, as a something that might indicate that a woman is a victim of human trafficking.2
  • The 2013 Report on Human Trafficking released by the State of Michigan’s Commission on Human Trafficking identified forced abortions as among the “physical and psychological” damages suffered by victims of human trafficking.3
  • Stanford University of School of Medicine instructs medical personnel to consider repeated abortions and complications from self-induced abortions as possible signs that a woman is a trafficking victim.4
  • A 2007 story on human trafficking in the Boston Globe reported on how trafficked women were forced to undergo abortions.5
  • In one case that involved trafficking women across several states federal prosecutors found that many of the women were compelled to have sex with 130 men per week, beaten, raped, and then forced to undergo abortions.6
  • In two other federal cases forced abortions were noted as part of the trafficking conduct and patterns of conspiracy to commit trafficking.7
Senate Bill 2275 would provide an enhanced penalty to human traffickers for forcing or coercing an abortion.
The bill’s structure follows the enhanced penalty section SB 2107. If a forced abortion on a victim occurs during the commission of a human trafficking offense the court may sentence the defendant to be imprisoned for up to five years in addition to the period of imprisonment prescribed for the offense.
Because SB 2275 is an enhanced penalty to the crime of human trafficking, its language must be in concert with the language of SB 2107. We ask the committee, therefore, to mindful of this fact when making amendments to either bill.
We urge a Do Pass recommendation on SB 2275.
The Health Consequences of Sex Trafficking and Their Implications for Identifying Victims in Healthcare
Facilities, Laura J. Lederer and Christopher A. Wetzel, Vol 23, 2014 Annals of Health Law 62 2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking; Id., Human Trafficking Fact Sheet
3 Michigan Commission on Human Trafficking, 2013 Report 4 Stanford University of School of Medicine, Human Trafficking: What Medical Personnel Need to Know
(2013),Harise Stein, MD 5 “Human Trafficking in Boston”, Boston Globe, March 27, 2007
6 Sex Trafficking Of Women In The United States International And Domestic Trends, Janice G. Raymond, Donna M. Hughes, March 2001
7 U.S. v. Todd, 627 F.3d 329, 331 (9th Cir. 2009); U.S. v. Stokes, No. 10-00244-04 2011 WL 1585601(W.D. Mo. 2011).