On Wednesday, Governor John Kasich signed into law House Bill 262, the Safe Harbor Act.
This law implements a victim-centered approach to human trafficking in Ohio by protecting minor victims from prosecution and diverting them to treatment, and allowing seized assets of convicted traffickers to create a fund to help the victims.
The Safe Harbor Act will increase penalties for trafficking to a first degree felony with a mandatory prison term of up to fifteen years, and poses customers with a possible felony charge for knowingly paying for sex with a minor.
Although not traditionally a pro-life issue, Ohio Right to Life has gotten involved with the legislation because young women who become human trafficking victims and are sold as prostitutes on the streets frequently become victims of abortions. As Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis tells LifeNews, it is a disgusting fact that girls are forced to have abortions in order to quickly return them to the streets as prostitutes to continue making money for their traffickers.
Moreover, Live Action, which focuses on exposing abuses in the abortion industry, has exposed how Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics are willing to arrange abortions for trafficking victims.
“By signing the Safe Harbor Act, Governor Kasich is defending the inherent dignity of human life,” said Gonidakis. “Like the abortion industry, the human-trafficker profits from victimizing the vulnerable. The two thrive because of society’s general lack of respect for the dignity of human life. Today, Governor Kasich and the Safe Harbor Act play a vital role in promoting the culture in Ohio as one that will respect every human life.”
Also announced today in cooperation with the bill-signing, Governor Kasich’s Human Trafficking Task Force will initiate a move to train individuals like investigators, law enforcement officials, school nurses and foster parents to better recognize and assist victims of trafficking.
Currently, about 3,000 domestic Ohio youth are at-risk for sex-trafficking because of their status as runaways or homeless. Annually, another 1,000 are trafficked into the sex trade in Ohio. Toledo is currently the fourth-worst city for trafficking in the U.S.
Gonidakis said, “Ohio Right to Life is grateful for Governor Kasich’s leadership in defending life here in Ohio by combating human trafficking.”