I wouldn’t say that anything House Republicans could do would surprise me at this point, but this is appalling even by contemporary Republican standards. Nick Baumann:
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.)
“This bill takes us back to a time when just saying ‘no’ wasn’t enough to qualify as rape,” says Steph Sterling, a lawyer and senior adviser to the National Women’s Law Center. Laurie Levenson, a former assistant US attorney and expert on criminal law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, notes that the new bill’s authors are “using language that’s not particularly clear, and some people are going to lose protection.” Other types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes. “There are a lot of aspects of rape that are not included,” Levenson says.
So merely being forced to have sex without your consent isn’t the same as being raped as far as access to health care is concerned? Can we stop hearing about the Deep Moral Principles of anti-abortion fanatics now? And even more so, can we please stop hearing about how criminalizing abortion is really about protecting women? Can anybody deny that opposition to legal abortion is deeply intertwined with sexism and reactionary beliefs about sexuality at this point?
As an added bonus,this proposal would (in the tradition of the odious Stupak Amendment) not only would deny some rape victims direct funding to pay for an abortion, it would prevent them from using money from a Health Savings Account. It’s an outrageous bill, and alas there will be plenty more where this came from for at least the next two years.
Kay Steiger has more.