What Fresh Hell Is This?

May 4, 2011

Congressman Altmire Votes FOR HR3

From The Weekly Standard today:
The House of Representatives voted today on the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," which bans direct federal funding of elective abortions and federal funding of insurance policies that cover elective abortions, such as policies that will be offered by Obamacare's exchanges in a few short years. The final tally was 251 to 175. Sixteen Democrats broke from their party to vote in favor of the bill. There weren't any Republicans who voted "no."
And they helpfully included a list of the Democrats who voted WITH the Republicans on this:
Altmire (PA)

Boren (OK)

Costello (IL)

Critz (PA)

Cuellar (TX)

Donnelly (IN)

Holden (PA)

Kaptur (OH)

Kildee (MI)

Lipinski (IL)

Matheson (UT)

McIntyre (NC)

Peterson (MN)

Rahall (WV)

Ross (AR)

Shuler (NC)
Luckily, the list is alphabetical so we don't have to search very far to find Jason's name. It's right at the top. Here's the roll from thomas.gov, in case you're interested in the full list.

According to thinkprogress, this is what Jason Altmire voted for.

First there's the redefinition of rape. From thinkprogress:
The bill sponsor Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) faced serious backlash after he tried to narrow the definition rape to “forcible rape.” By narrowing the rape and incest exception in the Hyde Amendment, Smith sought to prevent the following situations from consideration: Women who say no but do not physically fight off the perpetrator, women who are drugged or verbally threatened and raped, and minors impregnated by adults.
But Mother Jones writes:
After jettisoning controversial legislative language narrowing the definition of rape for the purposes of abortion law, House Republicans are attempting a backdoor maneuver to ensure that solely victims of "forcible rape" are eligible for federal funding if they seek abortions.
And then:
The backdoor reintroduction of the statutory rape change relies on the use of a committee report, a document that congressional committees produce outlining what they intend a piece of legislation to do. If there's ever a court fight about the interpretation of a law—and when it comes to a subject as contentious as abortion rights, there almost always is—judges will look to the committee report as evidence of congressional intent, and use it to decide what the law actually means.

In this case, the committee report for H.R. 3 says that the bill will "not allow the Federal Government to subsidize abortions in cases of statutory rape." The bill itself doesn't say anything like that, but if a court decides that legislators intended to exclude statutory rape-related abortions from eligibility for Medicaid funding, then that will be the effect. [emphasis in original.]
This is how the Department of Justice defines "Statutory Rape":
Statutory rape is a general term used to describe an offense that takes place when an individual (regardless of age) has consensual sexual relations with an individual not old enough to legally consent to the behavior. Stated another way, statutory rape is sexual relations between individuals that would be legal if not for their ages. In accordance with the FBI definition, this Bulletin characterizes statutory rape as nonforcible sexual intercourse with a person who is younger than the statutory age of consent.
So if the bill becomes law, and some 19 year old guy seduces a 14 year old girl who then becomes pregnant, she wouldn't be eligible for any federal funds for an abortion. If she can't afford it herself (which is to say, if she doesn't have a few hundred bucks floating around) and she doesn't want to be pregnant, she's plain outta luck. She's gonna give birth. Girls from wealthy families probably won't have to deal with this issue, of course. Girls from poor families, surprise surprise, will.

Then there's the Rape Audits:
Because H.R. 3 bans using tax credits or deductions to pay for abortions or insurance, a woman who used such a benefit would have to prove, if audited, that her abortion “fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.” Essentially, the bill turns Internal Revenue Service agents into “abortion cops” who would force women to give “contemporaneous written documentation” that it was “incest, or rape, or [her] life was in danger” that compelled an abortion.
On this Mother Jones reported:
In testimony to a House taxation subcommittee..., Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, confirmed that one consequence of the Republicans' "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" would be to turn IRS agents into abortion cops—that is, during an audit, they'd have to detemine, from evidence provided by the taxpayer, whether any tax benefit had been inappropriately used to pay for an abortion.
Wait, wait. Isn't this the political party that wants to reduce the power and reach of the federal government?

This is what Jason Altmire voted for.

This is a democracy and he's an elected official. So if you had thoughts (either way) about this bill and its redefinition of rape and how it turns the IRS into "abortion cops", you have the right to discuss those thoughts with your elected officials.

If you're looking for contact information to ask Congressman Altmire about his vote, it's found here.

Feel free to contact him.

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