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Tilting at Windmills

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January 28, 2011

THE ODIOUS GOP PLAN TO REDEFINE RAPE.... Last week, after a rather pointless vote to repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans announced their second major initiative: the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act."

It was additional evidence that the new House GOP majority isn't exactly focused on the economy and job creation, and it seemed like another gesture to the party's far-right base. After all, existing law already restricts public funds for abortions.

Today, Nick Baumann takes a closer look at the proposal, and highlights an odious provision that proponents would use 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.)

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.

In all likelihood, this bill, like the ACA repeal measure, wouldn't stand much of a chance in the Senate, and would surely draw White House opposition.

But the fact that the bill actually reflects Republican priorities, and will almost certainly pass the House with overwhelming GOP support, speaks volumes.

Steve Benen 10:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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Revolting. Absolutely revolting.

Posted by: Tigershark on January 28, 2011 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: Jam on January 28, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP is the political vector for single-issue zealotry. Abortion, gun rights, property rights, Christian victimhood, anti-tax millenialism, Creationism, et al, locate the soreheads, galvanize and network them, give them credibility, and then shift the national discourse from real issues to these boutique grievances.

And it works.

Posted by: walt on January 28, 2011 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Not being up to date on all of the legal distinctions, does this mean date rape is not covered? Is there a threshold for the degree of force?

Posted by: martin on January 28, 2011 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

The ideal woman, Republican version: Barefoot and pregnant. . .

Posted by: DAY on January 28, 2011 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

In conservative minds there's no such thing as rape.
The tramps and tarts deserve it.

Is there an empathy genome we can implant?
Maybe that would change the world as we know it.
Scientist's, get to work on it!
Oops, I forgot, there's no such thing as science.
Let us pray...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 28, 2011 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

She can't get an abortion because she wore a mini skirt? Or pants? Or showed some cleavage? Or left her burka at home?

Posted by: Vokoban on January 28, 2011 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

This is all a big misunderstanding. You see, for people in the red states, what most of us might call "incest" or "statutory rape" goes by the name "family values".

Have some cultural sensitivity, people!

Posted by: Basilisc on January 28, 2011 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

A Speech for Buncombe

From 1817 to 1823, western North Carolina, including the proud county of Buncombe, sent Felix Walker to the House of Representatives in Washington. He was a glib and garrulous talker, and doubtless it was his very trivial and high-sounding speeches that found favor with the word-loving mountain voters of the day.

On February 25, 1820, during the congressional debate on the Missouri Compromise, Walker signaled that he wished to make a speech. But so protracted had been the debate and so weary were the members of the House that a colleague told Walker that no one wished to hear him at that time. The persistent fellow said that he would take only a few moments, for he wished merely a chance to get his speech reported in the newspapers and in that way provide his constituents with solid evidence that he was doing a good job in Washington. "I shall not be speaking to the House," he confessed, "but to Buncombe."

But in the chambers of the House, "the question was called for so clamorously and so perseveringly that Mr. W. could proceed no farther than to move that the Committee rise," which it refused to do. When later the representative delivered his oration and had it printed in the newspaper, it was agreed that truly it was a speech for Buncombe, meaning that it was frivolous, repetitious, and unnecessary.

Felix Walker was not downcast. He had done the thing he needed to do, and that was that. Came the comment: "Walker's speech was buncombe--no doubt about it."

The word caught on. Eventually it was spelled bunkum, meaning any nonsensical language, then shortened to bunk. In such a way did a beautiful mountain county in North Carolina add a new a useful word to the English dictionary.

Posted by: Steve P on January 28, 2011 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

I would say they are sick fucks, but I wouldn't want to be uncivil.

Posted by: dp on January 28, 2011 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Here's how to get the abortion elephant out of the room. Make it illegal-period. But then when doling out punishments for breaking the law not only will the women & Dr.s go to prison so will the fathers! With modern science it is pretty easy to figure out who the father is. And if a woman won't give up the name of the father, well then the govt. would have no choice but to start a national registry of DNA for ALL MEN.

The fact that men could be punished for abortion would guarantee that this topic goes away for the extremists.

Posted by: JohnGee on January 28, 2011 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Just think of all the jobs this bill will produce!

Posted by: doubtful on January 28, 2011 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, hold on a minute, I read the bill itself (http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h3/text) and Section 309 says cases of incest and minors are exempt from the restriction.

It's not as bad as it seems, but the "forcible" rape language is asinine.

Posted by: Jam on January 28, 2011 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats should immediately begin referring to this bill as the "Teen Pregnancy Promotion Act"

Posted by: shrillhouse on January 28, 2011 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Now, where are the Democratic politicians who will stand up and holler, "Republicans won't protect young girls who are raped by older men!" or "Republicans want women and girls put at medical risk!" or other even less defensible interpretations of what Boehner et al. are trying to do? Where's the outrage chorus, where's the echo chamber? Where are the Democrats?

Posted by: bleh on January 28, 2011 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

I am sure all of the back room abortionists are salivating at all the new business they will be getting. My God - the US is going back to the 19th century when poor women were dying all the time from dangerous abortion procedures.

Posted by: js on January 28, 2011 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Text of Sec 309:


�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.

Seems to me statutory, non-"forcible" rape is still A-OK ....

Posted by: Gtdread on January 28, 2011 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

As odious as the bill still is, Jam's comment after reading the bill is, to a degree, a relief.

Rep. Chris Smith is the guy who championed "Megan's Law," and it would have seemed really out of character to then dump on minors who were raped like that.

Insert "republicans? With character" comment here.

Posted by: slappy magoo on January 28, 2011 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

JohnGee....I have a better solution. Make abortion completely legal and covered and make it a personal decision. You don't believe in abortion? Don't get one. Just because you don't believe in it doesn't give you the right to tell others to live by your beliefs. I won't force you to get an abortion and you can't force me not to get one should I choose to do so. That is equality. Abortion isn't murder & it is legal so stop trying to make it illegal.

Posted by: kindness on January 28, 2011 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

So the woman who got pregnant after she was slipped a roofie in her Diet Coke would not have her abortion covered.

The woman with a medical condition who fell unconscious in a bad neighborhood and was raped, she would not be covered.

The 17 year old girl who drank too much at a party her parents didn't know about, and was raped while passed out, would not be covered.

The 12 year old raped by her stepfather, or by her sister's boyfriend in her room, or by her tennis coach at practice, would not be covered.

The developmentally disabled girl gang raped and impregnated by boys who told her it was a "game" would not be covered.

The comatose patient in a hospital raped by staff would not have her abortion covered.

Because, apparently, these aren't "real" rape...

Does anyone in the Republican party understand the idea of CONSENT? If you take an unattended car from someone's driveway it's still grand theft auto even though it wasn't a "forcible" carjacking!

They wouldn't apply this standard to their CARS, but they want to see it applied to their daughters' bodies?

Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable.

Posted by: Anon on January 28, 2011 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

If taxpayer monies shouldn't be used for abortion because some taxpayers don't like it, then what of all the other things that other taxpayers don't like either, like spending for war, corporate subsidies, executions, drug law enforcement, etc? Are the anti-abortion taxpayers and their supporters saying, that they're more important than everyone else? I can imagine it being a game point to bring up whether it's wise to spend public money on what many citizens very strongly oppose, but at least we can try to have some fair play and wide-ranging consideration about it.
BTW I thought "rape" was already ""forcible rape", what am I missing here?

PS: moderators, blog admins etc: please, enough with at least some of these creepy ads like the one I just found from c13zedo.com: "Is this the end of America ..." and then about a video from someone who wants you to invest in whatever (like Beck's gold.) If you *have* to accept all ads but some exquisitely defined "offensive" ones, then there's something wrong with our legal/commercial system, if you don't then there may be something wrong with your judgment; as I should be able to say as constructive criticism.

Posted by: neil b on January 28, 2011 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

(Yeah, statutory rape ... which maybe should have a different name but not a justification to fail to provide an exemption to the law, a law which is questionable anyway.)

Posted by: neil b on January 28, 2011 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Gtread has it right. Statutory rape, rape by any means other than force (e.g. intoxication) all fine under this law. Also fine: incest once the female person in question is no longer a minor.

Oh, and if you're just going to be paralyzed or blind or have kidney failure, that's not good enough either. It has to be death, and a physician has to put their license on the line.

Posted by: paul on January 28, 2011 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

I want somebody to introduce the "No Taxpayer Funding of War Crimes Act." Pretty please? If we're going to pick and choose what we spend public money on based on our moral principles, can we at least start with one that's a bit more universal than fetus-fetishism? Then we can move on to the "No Taxpayer Funding of Factory Farmed Meat" for all the folks who object to that practice. Can't wait to see how the newly vegetarian and organic military reacts to that.

Posted by: libdevil on January 28, 2011 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Read that wording again that Gtdread posted.

It does not exempt forcible rape and incest. It exempts forcible rape and incest only if it involves a minor.

So if step-dad plies his 19-year-old stepdaughter with alcohol and impregnates her, tough titties!

Posted by: Prairie Blue on January 28, 2011 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Redefining rape as "forcible rape" would not only exclude services for statutory rape victims but many other rape victims as well. Forcible rape is what it sounds like--rape by force or threat of force. Thus, if a rape victim were, say, unconscious or otherwise unable to resist (roofies anyone?), according to Rethuglicans she hasn't actually been raped, at least not offensively enough to warrant an abortion.

Posted by: amcoco on January 28, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP treating women and girls like real human beings? They aren't capable of it.

Posted by: Silver Owl on January 28, 2011 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Yet Dems will be too polite and civil to starkly map out the true implications of this law, so there will be no real downside to repubs proposing these grotesque bills.

Until repubs start feeling some serious public backlash, they will continue subjecting us to this bullshit.

Posted by: bdop4 on January 28, 2011 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

This is what you get when Republicans are in charge. There is no need for this bill in the first place. Were they asleep when the Prez signed an Executive Order that no federal funds be used for abortion ON TOP of the already standard language included in the ACA that bars federal funding of abortion?

Monumental waste of time married to absolutely offensive and ridiculous "efforts."

This is what you get when you put Republicans in charge.

Posted by: June on January 28, 2011 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Do any of you lemmings actually take pause and collect the facts or do you just take some partisans hacks word for it every time.....I'm guessing the latter....

Posted by: Irie on January 28, 2011 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Irie, do tell how this is a GOOD thing? You moron.

Posted by: HMDK on January 28, 2011 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

they have always been vile people. no surprise here.

Posted by: rikyrah on January 28, 2011 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

So, it's not rape if it results in a baby? WTH.

Posted by: CJ on January 28, 2011 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

I'm pro-choice, but I think that the distinction people want to make between pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, as opposed to other pregnancies, is misguided.

If you believe that abortion is the taking of an innocent life and therefore immoral--which is the essence of the anti-abortion movement--then it shouldn't matter what the circumstances are in which the pregnancy occurs; that "innocent life" must be protected.

In a kind of perverse way, people who advocate an exception for victims of rape or incest are really suggesting that the woman should be treated more harshly if the pregancy resulted from a voluntary sexual act. That strikes me as incredibly moralistic in the worst sense. When people ssy that an abortion is acceptable for a woman impregnated through an involuntary act but not acceptable if the act was voluntary, it's tantamount to penalizing the woman whose act was voluntary. I'm uncomfortable with this distinction. At least anti-abortionists who refuse to recognize this distinction are taking a philosophically and morally consistent position.

Posted by: DRF on January 28, 2011 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

you got it...this is about punishing women who have sex. (Maybe they think it's just unmarried women who want abortions, since the point is to punish "immoral" behavior)

Posted by: Shoeflyin on January 28, 2011 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

you got it...this is about punishing women who have sex. (Maybe they think it's just unmarried women who want abortions, since the point is to punish "immoral" behavior)

Posted by: Shoeflyin on January 28, 2011 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Is this fairy tale an attempt, a truly pathetic attempt to divert attention away from the Kenyan Kommie Klown's $1.5 trillion deficit?

Posted by: juandos on January 29, 2011 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP must sincerely believe that all women and girls are natural-born hookers who get what they deserve.

Posted by: Pat on January 30, 2011 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK



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