Bill Introduced to Assist Medical Professionals Help Human Trafficking Victims

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Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., is introducing a bi-partisan bill, along with Sen. Sue Collins, R-Maine, that will help medical professionals better understand what they can do to identify and help human trafficking victims.

It can be hard for anyone to develop a rapport with human trafficking and sexual assault victims, which is why nurses from Sanford Health spent the day learning how to do just that.

"A lot of physicians and nurses need that help. They want to help, but they don't know how to do it. They don't know the questions to ask," said forensic nurse consultant Diana Faugno.

Heitkamp is trying to make it easier for physicians to get the help they need. Her Stop, Observe, Ask and Respond, or SOAR, to Health and Wellness Act would make it easier for doctors to get training to recognize and react to human trafficking.

"This is not something that you want someone untrained to do that level of investigation, that level of examination and so this could be the one chance that we have for rescue," said Heitkamp.

About one in three trafficked women will see a doctor while they're held captive.

Faugno said, "A lot of times there's just not enough people, when I say people, nurses or doctors, who want to do and so the person that suffers is the child."

"These are people and they're being sold and they're being, and they're being abused," said Paula Condol, Child's Advocacy Center director. "You know, obviously as a society we don't want those types of things to happen.

With more than 400,000 child victims of human trafficking in the country, the need for education is as big as ever.

This bill would expand on a pilot program that began in New Town and Williston, where 57 medical professionals have already been trained.