There is a devastating connection between sex trafficking and forced abortions.

Sex trafficking of women, including minors, brands a woman as a commodity to be bought and sold for pleasure.  Such females experience terrible abuse from their traffickers, who make a profit from the sale of their bodies.  This illegal activity is one of the fastest growing criminal industries, generating about $32 billion each year.  Trafficked females are enslaved, and kept in line by the trafficker by emotional and physical abuse, and frequently by plying them with drugs to make them pliant to the trafficker’s demands and to cover up their pain and degradation.  Included among these abuses is the horrific prevalence of forced or coerced abortions on these women.

It is true that human trafficking is a secretive world, where the average seven year survival rate for commercially trafficked females makes it difficult for researchers to study the issue.  However, a study published in 2014, entitled The Health Consequences of Sex Trafficking, by Laura Lederer and Christopher Wetzel,[1] does provide a rare glimpse into the issue of forced abortions by human traffickers.  Their study obtained the following information:

  • 71% of trafficked females reported at least one pregnancy while being trafficked.
  • 21% (1 in 5 females) reported having 5 or more pregnancies.
  • 55% reported at least one abortion.
  • 30% reported multiple abortions.
  • Among the 66 females studied, 114 abortions were reportedly performed on them during their trafficked state.

The study also reported that these victims are sold to different men for sex purposes on an average of 13 times a day.

In an article, entitled Abortion is a Tool to Exploit Sex Workers,[2] it was explained that abortion is a necessary resource for the traffickers because the victim, when pregnant, is significantly less profitable for the abuser.  That is, in her pregnant state, she has increased health and medical expenses, and, when she becomes noticeably pregnant, her “value” in the sex industry decreases.

According to Steven Wagner, former Director of the Human Trafficking Division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Providing abortion services to a victim benefits only the trafficker by getting the victim back on the street and making money for him sooner.”[3]

Unfortunately, the abortion industry does not help victims of forced abortions.  Abortion workers ignore and fail to report blatant instances of sex trafficking.  They actively aid the perpetrators of forced abortions by returning these females to the traffickers after the abortion, with no questions asked.  The only concern of the abortion business appears to be getting paid.  They ignore the red flags, such as extensive bruising on the women, or tattoos on the victim’s arm, indicating they are the “property” of the pimp.  There is no indication that the largest abortion chain in the U.S., Planned Parenthood, has ever trained employees to identify and assist abused women.  Taking payment for forced abortions is far easier and more profitable for the abortionists than reporting the crime.

It is obvious individuals and organizations outside the abortion industry are necessary to stop this hideous crime.

This requires that evidence-based and trauma-informed training for all healthcare professionals be made available in order to rescue these victims.  Healthcare professionals should include dentists and dermatologists, as well as pediatricians and emergency physicians, because victims may suffer beatings, which include damage to the teeth.  Healthcare workers must be trained to identify signs of trafficking and learn to avoid re-traumatizing or shaming victims, and provide them with supportive resources.

Law enforcement personnel must be trained in human trafficking and thoroughly investigate each suspected case.  “Point of Rescue” pamphlets, as developed and distributed in Louisiana, should be placed in shops, clubs, hotels and abortion facilities, to explain where a victim of human trafficking may go for help.  Such literature serves as an essential tool to curb this tragic situation.

It is unacceptable that society turns a blind eye to the horrors these women endure.

[1]The Health Consequences of Sex Trafficking and Their Implications for Identifying Victims in Healthcare Facilities” Laura Lederer and Christopher A. Wetzel, Annals of Health Law, Vol. 23, 2014; p. 72.  Read at https://www.icmec.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Health-Consequences-of-Sex-Trafficking-and-Implications-for-Identifying-Victims-Lederer.pdf

[2]www.syracuse.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/abortion_is_a_tool_to_exploit_sex_workers_your_letters.html

[3] Wagner; Nov. 29, 2011 https://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/kathleen-sebelius-gruesome-moral-calculus