Using science and medicine to stop human rights violations
How NOT to "Do No Harm": Senator Coburn Prioritizes Deportation Over Helping Sex Trafficking Victims
Among the survivors of persecution in this country who deserve a chance to build a better life, few groups are as much in need as victims of sex trafficking. The US government estimates as many as 17,500 people are trafficked into our country every year to be forced into prostitution. It is well documented that trafficked persons are involved in the most exploitative forms of commercial sex operations and are commonly subjected to starvation, confinement, physical beatings, rape, threats of violence, and forced drug use.Despite all of this, in a November 16, 2010 letter [subscription required] to Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Tom Coburn declared his opposition to a bill that would combat sex trafficking of children and provide for the needs of rescued victims. His concern? The bill, which authorizes $45 million in grants, proposes no offsetting spending cuts.Senator Coburn, however, had no such concerns on October 21, 2010 when he joined with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s other Republican members to request information from the Secretary of Homeland Security about how much it would cost to deport every undocumented immigrant in the United States. The Center for American Progress has estimated that it would cost a staggering $285 billion to find, apprehend, detain, legally process, and transport the almost 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US.This prioritization of policy goals and the numbers behind it just don’t add up. Cost of mass deportations, which Senator Coburn clearly supports: $285 Billion. Cost of providing modest assistance to victims of one of the worst human rights abuses ever committed: $45 Million.What makes this stunning inhumanity all the more surprising is that Senator Coburn is also a doctor who, while in practice, specialized in family medicine and obstetrics. Senator Coburn often highlights the fact that he has delivered more than 4,000 babies in his career, and that he is committed to continuing to care for patients even while serving as a legislator. His recent actions, however, violate his most fundamental duty as a health professional: first, do no harm.Is conducting an overwhelming and massive deportation initiative really worth greater consideration — and more than 6,300 times more money — than healing survivors of human trafficking? Please consider reaching out to your Senators to send the message that health professionals do support giving care and assistance to survivors of sex trafficking. Take action here to ask them to pass the bill that Senator Coburn has criticized, the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010, bill S. 2925.?You can learn more about this bill here.