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My Congressperson Wants to Redefine Rape

30/01/2011

My Congressman, Rep. John Fleming (R, LA-4), is co-sponsoring a bill that seeks to redefine rape. Via Mother Jones:

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.),┬áRepublicans 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.)

What about women who’ve been drugged? Mentally incapacitated? This is preposterous. Republicans came back from midterm elections saying their top priority was jobs and the economy. This doesn’t surprise me. When things look up politically for conservatives, they always hawk back to social issues.

There used to be a quasi-truce between the pro- and anti-choice 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 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.

The bill, entitled H.R.3: No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act, has 173 co-sponsors, including a hand full of Democrats. To see if your congressperson is involved, visit the bill’s opencongress.org page here.

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