Tuesday, February 1, 2011
When is it a good time to redefine rape?
Well, if societal norms are important to you, you understand this is a topic that's best left alone. However, if you're the new House Republican majority, and you're interested in changing abortion laws, redefining rape is a good idea—no matter how many people end up looking at you like you've just lost your mind.
According to a recent piece in Mother Jones, the definition of rape is troublesome when it comes to how government funds are used to pay for abortions. If the word rape only involves force, and consent is left out of the picture, those pesky pregnancies from incest aren't eligible for gov funded abortions.
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.)
Here's a petition against this loony legislation.