On Thursday night, hours before passing the tax cut compromise, House Republicans thwarted a bill that aimed to protect girls around the world from being coerced into child marriage. They opposed it because, they claimed, it might fund abortions.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), was blindsided. After the Child Marriage Protection Act passed the Senate with zero objection on Dec. 1 -- a rare feat these days -- it didn't seem like there was much to worry about.
But just before the vote began, Republican leadership blasted out a "whip alert" to GOP staffers with a message: Vote no. The alert claimed the bill cost too much and that a competing bill, introduced just the day before, would be better.
"There are also concerns that funding will be directed to NGOs that promote and perform abortion and efforts to combat child marriage could be usurped as a way to overturn pro-life laws," the alert read.
And so the bill, which needed a two-thirds vote to pass under the suspended rules, failed. Even some congressmen who sponsored the bill voted no.
McCollum, along with human rights organizations and the State Department, believes that child marriage is a form of child abuse that includes sexual abuse, domestic violence and slavery.
Read the full article here.
Read the bill here.
According to Change.org: Millions of girls are forced into child marriages around the world, sometimes with men over twice their age. In developing countries, child marriage is an incredible problem, with girls' physical and emotional health being endangered by this dangerous practice. From missing out on education to dangerous childbirth at a young age, girls in developing countries are especially at risk because of child marriage.
In response to the House of Representatives failure to pass the bill, change.org has started a petition which can be viewed and signed here.
Picture by Kay Chernush for the U.S. Department of State.