Sunday, January 30, 2011

Re-Defining Rape: A Bipartisan Goal

By now many of you may have heard about H.R. 3, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act". According to legislators, the purpose of this bill is only to make existing limits on abortion in federal code, such as the Hyde Amendment, permanent. However, the law goes further than permanently codifying these restrictions on women's privacy, and drastically limits the definition of both rape and incest.

The text of the bill lists that the only exceptions to the ban of federal funding for abortions include when the pregnancy endangers the mother's life and:

"[I]f the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest..."

Forcible rape? What does that even mean? One major reason for concern is that the term 'forcible rape' is not defined in the federal code, nor do many states have a definition. To me, the term 'forcible rape' sounds like the only time rape is really 'rape' is when your attacker has a gun or a knife to your head. It would be interesting to see how we decide whose rape qualifies and whose rape doesn't for a federally funded abortion.

The incest exception is also being drastically changed. Federally funded abortions would only be allowed if the victim of incest was under 18. Because that makes sense. (?!)

I was surprised to learn that this bill, introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ4), has bipartisan support. Nine 0f the 173 cosponsors are Democrats, including Daniel Lipinski (D-IL3) and Nick Rahall (D-WV3).

But to be clear, I wasn't surprised that some Democrats would support pro-life legislation. Rather, I was surprised they would support legislation that would only really accomplish demeaning women, restricting their rights, and perpetuating harmful myths about rape.

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