GOP Anti-Choice Bill Includes Revision that Redefines Rape – by Discounting It

Trigger warning

Has someone from the GOP been talking to Naomi Wolf?

Have you been drugged and raped? Raped while unconscious? Raped by your uncle? Apparently according to the GOP House, this isn’t really rape. Mother Jones reports:

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.)

[...] “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. (Emphasis mine)

The National Network of Abortion Funds points out the sad reality that it’s already pretty damn difficult for women to even get abortion coverage after being raped (although it doesn’t make this bill any less harmful):

[W]hat happens today when a woman or girl who has been sexually assaulted seeks Medicaid funding for abortion in one of the many states that pay only in the case of rape/incest or life endangerment? The reality is that she is almost always denied coverage for the abortion.

In some cases, state Medicaid officials simply assert that they never cover abortion, either because they do not understand the rape/incest exception or because they do not believe in assisting women and girls with abortion under any circumstances. In other cases, the burdensome paperwork requirements on the part of the woman needing assistance, the police, and doctors ensure that payment is never made – or will never come in time for the woman to obtain an abortion. In still other cases, the reimbursement from the state to abortion providers is so low that clinics no longer choose to go through the complicated and rarely successful process of seeking coverage.

The truth is that there is no real Medicaid exception for poor women and girls who have been raped or victimized by incest.

So what’s your damage, guys? Boehner? Smith? Because all this does is make it all the more obvious of exactly how anti-woman your agenda is. Shame on you all.

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