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Gayle in MD
08-20-2012, 09:14 AM
The House GOP's Plan to Redefine Rape
Drugged, raped, and pregnant? Too bad. Republicans are pushing to limit rape and incest cases eligible for government abortion funding.


[Editor's Note: On Thursday, House Republicans, facing an onslaught of outside pressure, decided to remove the controversial "forcible rape" provision from their "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." The original language from the Hyde Amendment—which bans federal funding for abortions through Medicaid except in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother's life—will replace the "forcible" provision, said a spokesman for Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who introduced the bill. The move comes in response to heavy criticism in recent days from outside advocacy groups including MoveOn.org and Emily's List and the growing #dearjohn campaign, aimed at House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), that opposed the abortion funding bill. Read more about about the House GOP's backtracking here. Nick Baumann's original story on the GOP's attempts to redefine rape is below.]

Rape is only really rape if it involves force. So says the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law.

Read more: Todd Akin, Paul Ryan, and the GOP's latest push to redefine rape.
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.)

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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.

There used to be a quasi-truce between the pro- and anti-abortion rights forces on the issue of federal funding for abortion. Since 1976, federal law has prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, and when the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman. But since last year, the anti-abortion side has become far more aggressive in challenging this compromise. They have been pushing to outlaw tax deductions for insurance plans that cover abortion, even if the abortion coverage is never used. The Smith bill represents a frontal attack on these long-standing exceptions.

"This bill takes us backwards to a time when just saying no wasn't enough to qualify as rape."
"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.

As for the incest exception, the bill would only allow federally funded abortions if the woman is under 18.

The bill hasn't been carefully constructed, Levenson notes. The term "forcible rape" is not defined in the federal criminal code, and the bill's authors don't offer their own definition. In some states, there is no legal definition of "forcible rape," making it unclear whether any abortions would be covered by the rape exemption in those jurisdictions.

The main abortion-rights groups despise the Smith bill as a whole, but they are particularly outraged by its rape provisions. Tait Sye, a spokesman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, calls the proposed changes "unacceptable." Donna Crane, the policy director of NARAL Pro-Choice America, says that making the "already narrow exceptions for public funding of abortion care for rape and incest survivors even more restrictive" is "unbelievably cruel and heartless."

"This bill goes far beyond current law," says Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), a co-chair of the congressional pro-choice caucus. The "re-definition" of the rape exception "is only one element" of an "extreme" bill, she adds, citing other provisions in the law that pro-abortion rights groups believe would lead to the end of private health insurance coverage for abortion.

"Somebody needs to look closely at this," Levenson says. "This is a bill that could have a dramatic effect on women, and language is important. It sure sounds like somebody didn't want [the exception to cover] all the different types of rape that are recognized under the law."





A look back:



House GOP Caves On Redefining Rape Bill
—By Siddhartha Mahanta

| Thu Feb. 3, 2011 7:55 AM PST

Last week, Mother Jones' Nick Baumann broke the story on Chris Smith's "No Taxpayer for Abortion" Act, which would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape. For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. But Smith's bill contained a provision that would limit the rape exemption to "forcible rape," ruling out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases—such as statutory rape—in which force was not involved or could not be proved. "It is absolutely outrageous," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). "I consider the proposal of this bill a violent act against women."

Now, Smith has retreated, excising the "forcible" rape language from the bill, reports Politico. "The word forcible will be replaced with the original language from the Hyde Amendment," Smith spokesman Jeff Sagnip says, referring to the ban on the federal government paying for abortions that's been in place since 1976.

The GOP effort to rewrite the meaning of rape incited a Twitter campaign of protest (using the hashtag #dearjohn). Editorial pages and columnists protested. Progressive groups initiated a crusade to kill the bill. And The Daily Show, of course, got in the act (around 9:15) too. MoveOn.org launched a petition against the bill, saying Smith's legislation would "set women's rights back by decades…As far too many women know, bruises and broken bones do not define rape—a lack of consent does." EMILY's List, issued its own petition, declaring war on the bill and one of its most prominent proponents: Speaker of the House John Boehner. Its website, BoehnersAmerica.org, urged "Boehner and his cronies to stop using rape victims as political pawns." The group said, "it was known from the beginning that Boehner and his boys would fight to take away women's freedoms whenever possible."

Smith's bill did unsettle some GOPers. Differentiating between types of rape, Politico reports, befuddled Republican aides. "Such a removal would be a good idea, since last I checked, rape by definition is non-consensual," one GOP aide says.

Soflasnapper
08-20-2012, 12:06 PM
Yes, I remember this well. However, most people probably missed it at the time, or if they saw it enough to have it rise to their attention then, have probably forgotten it in the meantime.

I think it is almost ludicrous that Senate nominee GOP Rep. Akin's REPEATING these horrible positions was necessary for people to remember, but I think it has had that effect.

It's great that he's stepped in it at a national level way now that may redound to the great detriment of that party-- about time!-- but it is just sad that they get away with this under the radar of most sensible people who'd have opposed it all along had they known.

Average sensible people think WE are nuts when we describe those other people as extreme. ("What an extreme thing to claim about a major national party!") But it is true, and people can see it is true now.

Gayle in MD
08-20-2012, 12:42 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Soflasnapper</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Yes, I remember this well. However, most people probably missed it at the time, or if they saw it enough to have it rise to their attention then, have probably forgotten it in the meantime.

I think it is almost ludicrous that Senate nominee GOP Rep. Akin's REPEATING these horrible positions was necessary for people to remember, but I think it has had that effect.

It's great that he's stepped in it at a national level way now that may redound to the great detriment of that party-- about time!-- but it is just sad that they get away with this under the radar of most sensible people who'd have opposed it all along had they known.

Average sensible people think WE are nuts when we describe those other people as extreme. ("What an extreme thing to claim about a major national party!") But it is true, and people can see it is true now. </div></div>

<span style="color: #990000">Yes! I welcome the gaff! This has enraged women all over the country, AGAIN! It will highlight Ryan's co-sponsoring these bills to deny women and girls of their rights to abort fetuses after they have been raped!

As the president said today:

<span style='font-size: 14pt'> "Let me first of all say that the views expressed were offensive! Rape is Rape! And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we're talking about, doesn't make sense to the American people, and certainly doesn't make sense to me.


So, what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women!

And so although these particular comments have led Governor Romney and other Republicans to distance themselves, I think the underlying notion that we (men) should be making decisions on behalf of women for their health care decisions, or qualifying forcible rape verses non forcible rape, I think those are broarder issues and that is a significant difference difference in approach between me, and the other party.

But, I don't think they would agree with the Senator from Missouri in terms of his statement, which was way out there." </span> </span>

<span style="color: #990000"> Bravo Mr. President! Perfect! However, President Obama is being far more kind to the Republicans on this matter than I would ever be, becuase of the sheer number of outrageous bills and passed laws, which the Repiglican Majority have put forward during this economic instability, particularly, in order to dictate to, or otherwise remove and/or destroy women's constitutional rights, not only on The Hill, but all over this country, all of it prosecuted by Repiglicans!

Clearly, these atrocities ARE Republican Policies, and while they may be running away from them now, in the run up to an election, and polling badly for the women's votes, the fact is that they will jump right back into their misogynistic efforts as soon as this election is over.

The question is, will women in this country realize that they MUST organize all women in our country to go all out to defeat Repiglicans on every level in this coming election, or likely lose all of their rights!

I do believe they will have an impact against the Romney team!

G.</span>

Gayle in MD
08-21-2012, 04:25 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Clearly, these atrocities ARE Republican Policies, and while they may be running away from them now, in the run up to an election, and polling badly for the women's votes, the fact is that they will jump right back into their misogynistic efforts as soon as this election is over.

</div></div>

Just Wondering...does annyonw doubt this? Does anyone think that Ryan, who sponsored this Bill, can shake off the actual truth that he was Akin's biggest supporter, and co-sponsor?

Bump?

G.