Rep. Lipinski Statement on Violence Against Women Act
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3) issued the following statement today on passage of the Violence Against Women Act:
“Today I voted in favor of S. 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. Since the Violence Against Women Act was first passed in 1994, the law has nobly served the goal of helping to protect victims of domestic violence and prosecute offenders by providing victims and law enforcement the resources, training, and assistance they need. In addition to maintaining the crucial protections offered to victims, the bill is an improvement from the previous law by providing for a national registry of forensic evidence from sexual assault cases and addressing the problem of domestic violence on college campuses.
“My enthusiasm for the bill, however, was tempered by some flaws in accompanying legislation. My primary concern was the lack of a conscience protection clause in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act that was included in today’s vote. By not adding a conscience protection clause, the Health and Human Services Department still will be allowed to deny grants and discriminate against organizations that seek to protect trafficking victims solely on the basis that they do not provide referrals for abortions. This has already occurred, when a victim protection grant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was denied in 2011, even though the organization was previously the sole grantee and had received high scores in the grant review. The reason for the decision was that USCCB does not provide or refer for abortion or contraception.
“This concern led me to vote in favor of the House amendment to S. 47. While the amendment was certainly flawed and in some ways inferior to S. 47, passage of the amendment would have led to a Conference Committee between the House and Senate in which the conscience protections could have been added and a superior bill could have been crafted. After the amendment failed, I believed that it was important to vote in favor of S. 47 so that we would finally end the delays and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
“Today, I helped introduce legislation, H.R. 898, that would reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and include conscience protection, preventing the continued discrimination against any grantee that does or does not make abortion referrals. The bill also would increase the level of federal attention to the global problem of human trafficking. I am hopeful moving forward that we can strengthen the laws protecting victims of human trafficking and do a better job of providing care and support.”
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