Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

February 3, 2011

GOP DROPS BID TO REDEFINE RAPE.... The House Republicans' "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" was odious enough at face value, but its provision redefining rape was simply inexcusable.

Existing law already restricts public funds for abortions, but there are exemptions for impregnated rape victims. This new effort, written by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), would severely limit what would legally be considered rape -- if a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, for example, she couldn't use Medicaid funds to terminate the pregnancy.

The uproar this week has been pretty intense, and as it turns out, pretty effective, too.

House Republicans plan to sidestep a charged debate over the distinction between "forcible rape" and "rape" by altering the language of a bill banning taxpayer subsidies for abortions.

The provision in question, written as an exemption from the ban for women who become pregnant as a result of "forcible rape," touched off a firestorm of criticism from women's groups, and it gained enough attention to become the subject of a satirical segment on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

But a spokesman for the bill's author, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), says the modifier "forcible" will be dropped so that the exemption covers all forms of rape, as well as cases of incest and the endangerment of the life of the mother.

As the week progressed, even Republicans who support the larger bill struggled to defend' the rape-definition provision, and the language threatened to scuttle the entire legislation. Smith's decision to drop this was a no-brainer, and should make House passage that much more likely.

But before we move on, it's worth emphasizing the fact that this bill is still awful, barring outright "the use of federal subsidies to buy any insurance that covers abortion well beyond the new exchanges."

The tax credits that are encouraging small businesses to provide insurance for their workers could not be used to buy policies that cover abortions. People with their own policies who have enough expenses to claim an income tax deduction could not deduct either the premiums for policies that cover abortion or the cost of an abortion. People who use tax-preferred savings accounts to pay medical costs could not use the money to pay for an abortion without paying taxes on it.

I'm glad proponents have dropped the effort to redefine rape, a move so offensive it's still hard to believe Republicans considered it. But make no mistake -- its removal does not make this a good bill.

Steve Benen 9:55 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (22)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

People who use tax-preferred savings accounts to pay medical costs could not use the money to pay for an abortion without paying taxes on it.

The same people who are up in arms about the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the ACA are of course fine with this sort of crap. *facepalm*

Posted by: jonas on February 3, 2011 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Changed language or not, the Dems should still be referring to this as The Forcible Birth Bill.

Posted by: martin on February 3, 2011 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

The "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" will now be replaced by "The Tramps Asked for it Act!"

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 3, 2011 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

martin,
I always call it "Forced Labor."

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 3, 2011 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

People who think that this is about money are wrong. As usual the Republicans hide their true motives behind fiscal issues. The real issue here is The Republican War Against Women.

They can't stand to see women with power. It is a macho attitude that aims to create the illusion of male superiority over women. That is what is really going on.

Posted by: Sheridan on February 3, 2011 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

But wasn't the "forcible rape" bullshit the whole point? Stick a shiny object in there that's so offensive that everyone focuses their attention on that issue, instead of the real travesty, which is the bill itself.

So now, taking that language out of the bill will be the democrats' "compromise", and they'll pass the bloody bill.

We are being played on this one.

Posted by: gypsy howell on February 3, 2011 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

How long has it been, Sheridan, that Women were submissive- by force, if necessary- to Men? Well before recorded history. . .

Men, as you say, feel threatened by superior intellect- it's why they buy Rolex watches and Porsches.

Posted by: DAY on February 3, 2011 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

DAY,
You forgot Hummer's, pick-up trucks, and having as many 2nd Amendment options as they can afford, and then some.

All of the above qaulify as "quicker pecker-upper's."

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 3, 2011 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

The Democrats never fought the most important battle: whether opponents of abortion have the right to object to federal funds being spent on procedures that the opponents find objectionable.

Everyone else has to accept majority rule. If you find Iraq or Afghanistan morally objectionable, your tax dollars are still going there. If you find the death penalty immoral you still have to pay for it.

But there is now a bipartisan understanding that abortion is a magic exception. Steve Benen's recent posts suggests that this is a purely GOP position. In reality, many Democrats (e.g. The Stupak Amendment supporters) agree with the magic abortion exception. And Obama's deal with Stupak made it administration policy.

Posted by: square1 on February 3, 2011 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

"...it gained enough attention to become the subject of a satirical segment on Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.'"

As if that's some high-water mark for newsworthiness. TDS has repeatedly demonstrated that it will cover topics the cable news networks won't -- even as TDS spends most of its time following the news nets. Most recently and most prominently, the Zadroga bill. In other words, TDS is in the lead on such issues so often, it would be more appropriate to say that the rest of the news caught up with them.

Posted by: Grumpy on February 3, 2011 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Remember that Blue Dog Dan Lipinski is a cosponsor of this bill. Will the residents of Illinois's 3rd District PLEASE vote this asshole out?

Posted by: shortstop on February 3, 2011 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

As was noted by Digby a couple of days ago, this whole thing was a side-show. Sure, the GOP dropped the re-definition of rape, but they still are passing a bill that is a profound circumscription of women's rights. That seems to have been lost in the fuss about the rape language, which, most likely was the idea in the first place.

Remember, the GOP has raised ratfucking to a high art. This was just one more example.

Posted by: LL on February 3, 2011 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

This bill will create jobs, reduce carbon emissions and help reduce "false" rape..

Hooray, put some testicles in your mouth and rejoice America!

Posted by: Trollop on February 3, 2011 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican Party is about anything but the one reason they picked up seats in 2010: jobs and the economy. They are a complete disgrace.

Posted by: max on February 3, 2011 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

There's also a logical fallacy that I haven't seen anyone pick-up: According to the 'Thugs any money you make is your money, therefore it is wrong for the government to take it away from you in the form of taxes. How is it then that they can use tax credits to restrict what you do with your money?

Posted by: Glidwrith on February 3, 2011 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to see a rider added to the bill that men who contract STDs as a result of being raped cannot use federal funding to receive treatment or medicine to cure or "kill" that disease(s).

Posted by: Laurie Neufeld on February 3, 2011 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

They always overreach so they can pretend to compromise on just how much they will restrict womens right to medical care.
No other medical procedure is regulated in this way.
The Hyde and Stupak amendments must be repealed and so must this bill not pass.

Posted by: thebewilderness on February 3, 2011 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

And how are they going to enforce the "no tax credits or deductions for policies (or use of HSA) that cover abortion"? 1099A's from your insurer? How many IRS agents will have to be hired to enforce this? (after all that complaining about enforcement of the individual mandate penalty).

Posted by: gert on February 3, 2011 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

its time for the Dems. to do what the republicans did on taxes and that is block every bill that comes to the floor of the senate no matter how good it is

Posted by: EDG on February 3, 2011 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

IF (and it's a very big IF)a good bill, sponsored by the GnOPes comes up I would hope that it would (after dutiful review) pass.
A good bill is a terrible thing to waste, especially given their rarity.

Posted by: TmFark on February 3, 2011 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

The author of this article seems to find this legislation offensive. Specifically that part that is aggregious is the one that would have undefined sex between a minor and an adult as rape. We must have very different perspectives. I don't think there is anything magical about your eighteenth birthday that makes you a fully developed human who is morally obligated to not have sex with anyone who has not reached the "magical age". If you don't believe in such an extreme definition of rape based on age then please offer a reasonable compromise.

I have a second more issue with the article. I find it offensive that sex between a minor and an adult is characterized as rape at all. You could just label it sex between a minor and an adult. That crime should not be comparable to coercive sex, which is what almost everyone thinks of when they hear rape. I think when you call relatively minor crimes rape, you belittle the experiences of those people who are forced to have sex.

Posted by: ed on February 6, 2011 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

I have a second more issue with the article. I find it offensive that sex between a minor and an adult is characterized as rape at all.

Um, then you take with all fifty states who characterize it that way. Sex with a minor who has not reached the age of consent is, by definition, non-consensual.

Your beef is not with Steve Benen, it is with decades of caselaw in the United States.

Specifically that part that is aggregious is the one that would have undefined sex between a minor and an adult as rape. We must have very different perspectives. I don't think there is anything magical about your eighteenth birthday that makes you a fully developed human who is morally obligated to not have sex with anyone who has not reached the "magical age".

Well, I hope you enjoy prison because prosecutors do indeed think there is something "magical" about your eighteenth birthday that morally -- and legally -- obligates you to not have sex with someone younger than eighteen. In fact, they can point to laws on the books!

Posted by: um.... on February 6, 2011 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly