What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 2, 2011

H.R. 3 - Redefining Rape

If only she'd been raped by an uncle.

From Washington Post:
A Republican bill seeking to permanently cut off federal funding for abortions has angered women's groups that say it alters the definition of rape, permitting coverage for the procedure only in cases in which the rape is considered "forcible."

The bill, called the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, would make permanent several provisions that have been law for years but require annual renewal by Congress. It is a top priority of Republican leaders who took control of the House after the November elections.

The most well-known provision that would become permanent under the bill is the Hyde Amendment, which prevents some federally funded health-care programs from covering abortions. For years, it has allowed exemptions in cases of rape and incest, and when the life of the woman is threatened.

Under the proposed language, however, rape becomes "forcible rape." Critics say the modifier could distinguish it from other kinds of sexual assault that are typically recognized as rape, including statutory rape and attacks that occur because of drugs or verbal threats.
Here's the specific text from the bill:
The limitations established in sections 301, 302, 303, and 304 shall not apply to an abortion--

`(1) if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest; or

`(2) in the case where the pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the pregnant female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.
So unless it's underage incest or unless there's force it ain't rape according to this GOP bill. Indeed "forcible rape" isn't even defined in the bill.

From Mother Jones:
For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith's spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)
But wait, there's more!
Given that the bill also would forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old's parents wouldn't be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn't be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense.
So how's covered and who isn't?

First, there are the people who would be overtly denied coverage, as outlined by Nick Baumann at Mother Jones. Those who were raped while drugged or unconscious, or through means of coercion, would not be covered. Survivors of statutory rape would not be covered: "if a minor," one is only covered in case of incest. And if one is a survivor of incest, and not a minor, that's also not covered. Studies of how rapists find and subdue victims reveal that about 70 percent of rapes wouldn't fall under the "forcible" designation.

Which leaves us with those rapes that could be construed as "forcible." Except that this clause doesn't guarantee an exemption for them, either. The term "forcible rape" actually has no set meaning; legal definitions of "force" vary widely. And every survivor who finds herself in need of abortion funding will have to submit her rape for government approval.

H.R. 3's language brings us back to an ancient, long-outdated standard of rape law: "Utmost resistance." By this standard, a rape verdict depended not on whether the victim consented, but on whether outsiders thought she resisted as hard as humanly possible. Survivors rarely measured up.
Tell me again about limiting the scope of government?

From Salon.com:
Of course, one still wonders if the people who dreamed up this bill ever stopped to imagine its potential consequences on their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters. Maybe they did. Maybe they gave some consideration to the trauma that their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters would experience if they had to give birth to a child conceived by force or coercion. But in the end, it's immaterial: the people behind the bill are animated by the belief that their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters are chattel.
To the GOP, women are chattel.


Ol' Froth said...

There are lots of things I don't like funding that the Federal Government funds. Can we see a bill called the "No Taxpayer Funding for Agribusiness farms" bill, as one example? Or how about the "No Taxpayer Funding for Private Prisons Act?"

Gloria said...

"No Taxpayer Funding for stupid, pointless, hideously wasteful & demonic wars"