House to drop “forcible rape” language in response to advocacy and satire

Breaking news: the House will drop “forcible rape” language that could have excluded some rape victims from being able to seek federal help to pay for an abortion. TPM attributes the decision to “pressure from women’s groups, Democratic politicians and Jon Stewart.”

Here’s one of those examples where humor brilliantly points out the absurdity of our national dialogue in a way that punditry, no matter how eloquent or well-intentioned, ever could. Schaall breaks down the arbitrary and profoundly ridiculous language–and the fuzzy thinking behind it–surrounding sexual assault, abortion, and government funding for Jon:

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  • Joshua Stein

    There are a couple layers of gross to this. The first (which is immediately obvious, and Schaal parodied it perfectly) is the notion that there are “degrees of rape.” I get in arguments all the time about it, and it drives me nuts. If there is no consent, the reason there is no consent (intoxication, being underaged, coercion or simply ignoring protestation) is not relevant. Obviously, there should be additional charges brought up in cases of “violent rape” (as if rape itself isn’t an inherently violent act) if there is an assault charge that should be added; but the notion of classifying “degrees of rape-iness” is just bizarre.

    The second, which I think Schaal misses a little bit, is that it shouldn’t be an issue of how little money taxpayers pay for abortions, but that taxpayers play a role in helping the victim recover from the crime, and in the cases of violent crimes where medical care is needed (like abortions) society plays a role in providing care for the victim. So much is made out of punishing criminals in our society, but it seems that, from time to time, we forget that many crimes have victims, too, and that there is a moral obligation to aid the victim that (at least in my mind) is as strong as, or stronger than, the obligation to appropriately punish the perpetrator.

  • Matt

    The cost is not relevant from a moral perspective, but it can shape how practical it is for the government to do the right thing. When you’re talking about a cost of $600k per year (that’s what 0.2 cents per person looks like, and I’m guessing that’s a reasonable cost for ~200 abortions) for something so important, not just for those who use the program, but for those even considering it (some may choose not to have an abortion but will nevertheless feel more in control since they were not boxed into that option), and really anyone who wants the piece of mind that they or anyone else would be served if she was in that position (if not for prosecuting the criminal, then at least for the government mitigating the impact of a rape that leads to a pregnancy). Most Republicans, no matter how cheap they are about women’s rights and no matter how much they love denying abortions, aren’t going to win an argument about how it is not worth $600k per year to get these results.

  • A

    This right here would be one of the only examples I’ve ever seen of humor and the topic of rape working together. Take note, rape joke defenders!

  • Nonsequiteuse

    Glad they took that horrendous language out – language which would have no doubt been immediately removed through a court challenge as being too vague – but it is worth repeating that many heinous parts of the bill remain.

    How many true conservatives would agree that the government should be able to tell private citizens who have health savings accounts that an abortion, a medical procedure performed in almost every state by doctors only who are regulated out the wazoo, is not a medical expense which can be paid for out of that account?

    Once again, the nutballs who have hijacked the Republican party prove that they favor government so small it fits in your uterus. We need to continue our advocacy against this bill.