What you can do to stop the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act

It’s on. The fight to stop the GOPs from redefining rape and further restricting abortion access is ON, and we need you to help win it.

If you’re on Twitter and follow feminist folk, you’ve probably noticed the hashtag #DearJohn. It’s the creation of Sady Doyle (@sadydoyle), mastermind of the #mooreandme protest that last year so successfully drew attention to how Michael Moore was minimizing and mocking the assault allegations against Julian Assange. The John in question here is Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, who cries at the thought of children missing out on the American dream, but seems to shed no tears at the idea of a rape survivor being forced to give birth to her rapist’s baby.

Here are just a few of the problems with the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act:

1. This bill narrows the “rape” exception to include only “forcible rape.” As Sady explains:

Under this new bill, the only rape survivors who would be able to receive funding would be those who were able to prove that their rapes involved “force.” If your rapist drugged you, intoxicated you, or raped you while you were unconscious, you don’t get coverage. If your rapist used coercion, you don’t get coverage. If this is a case of statutory rape — that is, if you are a thirteen-year-old child, raped by someone outside of your family — you don’t get coverage. If you’re an incest survivor over the age of eighteen — if, say, years of abuse only culminated in a pregnancy after your nineteenth birthday — you just don’t get coverage.

2. This bill narrows the “life of the mother” exceptions to include only physical threats to the life of the mother. If carrying to term a pregnancy that you do not want might make you suicidal, or if giving up a baby for adoption might be more than you can emotionally bear, too damn bad. No abortion coverage unless the pregnancy causes a risk to your physical health.

3. This bill empowers rapists. This bill makes it pretty damn clear, by only offering the rape exception to pregnant survivors of “forcible rape,” that any form of sexual violation that doesn’t involve force isn’t really rape. And since about 70% of rapists don’t use force when they rape, that lets about 70% of rapists off the hook.

4. This bill goes even further than the Hyde Amendment, which already prevents federal funds from being used for abortion. By amending the tax code to make it incredibly unappealing for private health insurance companies to cover abortion, this bill makes abortion less affordable than ever. As the New York Times reports:

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.

5. This bill completely contradicts what the GOP’s professed priorities. Speaker Boehner and the rest of the GOP claim that their top priority is creating jobs for Americans. But this bill, their third piece of legislation in the new session, has nothing to do with creating jobs and everything to do with sexism and culture war politics.

While the Twitter protest is focusing its attention on Speaker Boehner, we’re hoping that people will also call their representatives, especially if those representatives are among the Democrats who have signed on to the bill or progressive Democrats who are likely to speak out against it. If your congressperson falls into neither camp, please contact them anyway – preferably by calling them – and ask them to vote against it.

If you’re on Twitter, tweet at Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) and use the hashtag #DearJohn. You can follow Sady, as well as RH Reality Check’s Amanda Marcotte, Jaclyn Friedman, Steph Herold aka @IAmDrTiller and Shelby Knox for more information about the bill and the protest.

People like to talk about how feminism is dying because young feminists don’t have that fire in their belly when it comes to protecting reproductive rights. They like to say that we spend too much time navel-gazing online and not enough time protesting and demanding that women’s rights be expanded, not restricted. Here at Feministing, we know that’s not true and when it comes to HR3, we’re going to demonstrate just how much young feminists care about reproductive justice, and just how powerful young feminists, with the help of the internet, can be.

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7 Comments

  1. Posted January 31, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    This bill is definitely horrible! And it really screws over victims of sexual assault and rape, but I don’t see how it lets rapists off the hook. It is separate from the justice system, which is where rapists are being let off the hook.

    • Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      It doesn’t specifically let rapists of the legal hook, but it gives our rape culture more legitimacy. It’s basically telling everyone that rape victims really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and since rape victims are usually thought of as women, that women don’t matter. It also further victimizes a woman that was raped by forcing her to make choices that she might not want to, such as either carrying her rapist’s baby to term for 9 months or pressing charges and going through some kind of legal battle to get an abortion when she’d rather end the pregnancy privately. Either way, it kind of violates her privacy because if she’s pregnant due to rape or incest, her situation becomes public knowledge either way.

      • Posted January 31, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Actually, it does let them off the hook, because rapists will be able to point to this act/bill/law if passed and use it in their defense if they didn’t use physical violence to subdue the victim. The burden is then on the victim to submit proof (pictures of bruises, cuts, scratches, broken bones) that violence occurred. It gives the rapists a narrow definition of rape to avoid and then they can argue that since there was no violence, it must have been consensual, since the default is “she didn’t say no”. It really strengthens that argument. /shudder

        • Posted January 31, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

          The “she didn’t say no” defence is already in practice and it will continue regardless of this bill. The problem with this this bill pushes a defence that goes, “well, she did say no, but she didn’t fight back so hard that I had to beat her HALF TO DEATH–and clearly, since she only fought back hard enough to incur a few bruises, she really wanted/deserved it!” They are trying to redefine consent, changing it from “consent is saying yes” to “consent is anything and EVERYTHING short of getting beaten into a coma”.

  2. Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    In addition to speaking out against H.R. 3, which I agree is an outrageously extreme bill that is attempting a wholesale effort to reduce abortion access to an alarming extent, we also need to band together to protest H.R. 217, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act. This was discussed in a previous awesome Feministing article from January 19 posted by goddessjaz, and I encourage everyone to continue to fight it.

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h112-217

    H.R. 217 sponsored by Mike Pense [R-IN6] would absolutely decimate major funding for thousands of health clinics nation-wide, including Planned Parenthood. I do not need to emphasize twice something we all know – these clinics are providing critical reproductive health services that include access to contraception, treatment of STI’s, and cancer screening for women all over the US.

    Contacting your Representative today is crucial and tell them to protect critical funding for women’s healthcare. Preventive services such as contraception and family planning education actually REDUCE the number of unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion. Tell them to reject H.R. 217!

    Also we need to FLOOD Speaker Boehner and Representative Pence’s offices with ourcalls, emails and comments.

  3. Posted January 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I’ve contacted my member of congress (fortunately a member of the progressive caucus) and forwarded the info to friends. This is just shockingly appalling.

  4. Posted January 31, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    I wrote my representative today, I hope it didn’t fall on deaf ears since I don’t agree with some of her other stances. Not only is this obnoxious, insulting and proof that rape culture and anti-choice are in fact bedfellows (think about it, both rape and forced-birth involve removing a woman’s choice and imposes things onto her body with no regard to what her will may be), it sets a precedent to allow rapists off the hook in criminal cases. If it’s decided they didn’t sufficiently beat up the victim, or whatever these right-wing misogynists are deciding they think “forcible” means that afternoon.

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