Editor’s Note: This column contains graphic content.
While many in the media are becoming more aware of the growing threat of human trafficking, they rarely cover the connection between sexual slavery and abortion. But a new documentary is doing just that.
Blind Eyes Opened: The Truth about Sex Trafficking in America opened with a limited release in theaters on January 23, and is now showing at local locations nationwide. The Christian documentary “dives deep into the sex trafficking industry in the U.S.” and features politicians, law enforcement, and experts in an effort to inform the American public.
Corporal Alan Wilkett of Pasco County Sheriff's Office in Florida begins the documentary with some startling numbers. Citing the United Nations, he stressed that human trafficking enslaves an estimated 27 million people globally.
The United States, he added, is “one of the largest consumers of human trafficking.”
Abortion only helps hide the abuse, according to pro-life leaders. In the middle of the film, Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director turned pro-life advocate, examined the link between trafficking and abortion.
“People ask me all the time about, you know, connections between the abortion industry and sex trafficking and, you know, providing a safe haven for these abusers, which I absolutely believe that we did that while I worked in the abortion industry at Planned Parenthood,” Johnson revealed.
Arina O. Grossu, the former director of the Family Research Council’s Center for Human Dignity also chimed in.
“These poor women, sometimes they have 10-12 buyers a day. Some have reported up to 50 buyers a day,” Grossu stressed. “And so, there’s a higher risk of getting pregnant and then the pimps are not interested in saving their children.”
Instead, she said, they “send them to have abortions” because “they’re interested in having these women back on the market” for money.
Abortion, Johnson urged, perpetuates the trafficking.
“Abortion is the best thing on the planet for an abuser because it covers up and hides the abuse,” she concluded.
According to Johnson, while the abortion industry “breathes this idea of tolerance and non-judgment,” what it really promotes is “misguided sympathy.”
“How many times had I ignored the multiple abortions of a 15-year-old, how many times had I been so mindless in thinking that I was really protecting women,” Johnson wondered, “but I was in fact hurting them and over and over again we were sending them back to their abusers.”
Human trafficking survivors featured in the documentary backed up these comments with personal stories.
Edie B. Rhea, a survivor and the founder of Healing Root Ministry, Inc., was just four years old when her father died. A few months later, a new man named Bill moved in.
“I thought that he was going to be my new daddy, would be the one that would protect me and love me,” Rhea recalled. “But then at 10 years old, I remember the day so vividly, the first time that he ever sexually abused me.”
Two years after that, he began selling her sexually to strangers.
“Mom and Bill owned a meat store,” Rhea remembered. “And a lot of times, I would be taken into that cooler and raped.”
She was a business transaction in Bill’s eyes, and was even “sold one time for a meat grinder.” But a year into trafficking Rhea, Bill ran into a problem: evidence of her abuse.
“I was about 13 years old and I was telling my sister that I was not feeling good,” she said, “and Bill overheard it and gave me a pregnancy test.”
When he found out she was pregnant, he took her to the abortion clinic. “He signs the papers,” she said, “and I have an abortion.”
Later in life, she found healing by entrusting herself to God. Her faith influenced her when, years down the road, Bill called her from the hospital, begging to see her.
“I’m standing there in the hospital room and I feel the Lord just nudging me to share about Jesus,” Rhea said. “And so I do. And he accepts Jesus as his Savior.”
He died a couple weeks later.
“The relief that I felt for the forgiveness was so freeing, so peaceful, it’s like nothing I can ever explain,” Rhea remembered.
Likewise, another survivor, Rev. Brook Parker-Bello, Ph.D., and the founder, CEO, and executive director of More Too Life, Inc. admitted, “I can’t have children because of all the abuse and all the abortions I was made to have.”
It’s a deep wound she carries with her.
“I always wanted to be a mother,” she said, before tearing up. “I know how bad that my husband wants to be a dad. And I feel bad that I – I feel bad that I can’t be a mom but I think that I can mother many people and – and it’s okay.”
At just 11 years old, Parker-Bello was “badly raped,” she said.
She and her best friend, who was also a rape victim, decided to run away when they met what “seemed like a really nice couple.”
“They took us out to eat, we had fun, they said ‘let’s go back to our place, we’ll get you some clothes, we help kids like you, we’ve been there,’” Parker-Bello remembered.
She and her best friend believed them.
As soon as they arrived at their apartment, “everything changed,” she said. They brought out heroin and “beat me up, put me over a balcony, took out razor blades, and then stripped my clothes and put me in a dirty bathtub,” she remembered. “Later on in the middle of the night, I don’t really remember the time, it could have been 3, it could have been 4am, but I was out being prostituted.”
Sex trafficking and abortion’s cover-up of the abuse must be exposed. Today, both Rhea and Parker-Bello share their stories and lead organizations in the hopes that, one day, there will be an end to sex trafficking – and to all “blind eyes.”