Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Federal Bill H. R. 3: Rape Only if "Forcible," Statutory Rape Okay

Yesterday I looked at PA SB3. Today let's look at something similar on the federal level, H.R. 3, "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." This bill limits access to reproductive rights in general, but to abortion in particular. Note the wording of the rape or incest exceptions:

(1) If the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest;

Pay careful attention to the adjective forcible, forcible rape. There is no legal definition of what is forcible rape. Would date rape apply? If a woman were drugged and raped would that be forcible? If a rapist breaks into the home of a single mother and says if she makes any noise or fights he'll kill her children in the next room, would that count as rape if she doesn't fight back? What constitutes forcible rape? Does being hit by fists constitute force, threatened by a knife or gun? Does she actually have to be stabbed or shot? At present an adult male who has sex with a minor female is guilty of statutory rape. The forcible rape restriction would likely mean that if a 30 year old talked a 12 year old into having sex or merely threatened her with words, it wouldn't count as forcible rape, and so unless her family had private abortion insurance or had the money on hand, she would be forced to go through with the pregnancy. The average girl in American starts having periods at age 12, but their bodies are not ready to carry a child to term or give birth.

Notice also that that incest only applies to minors, not adults.

For more information, read
"Look at the shiny object" by Digby on Hullabaloo
"The House GOP's Plan to Redefine Rape," by Nick Baumann, Mother Jones, excerpt:
Given that the bill also would forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old's parents wouldn't be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn't be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense.

"John Boehner's push to redefine rape," by Sady Doyle , Slate, excerpt:
Exemptions for rape and incest are a known target of antiabortion groups. John Boehner, who named this bill a top priority for the new Congress, is endorsed by the Republican National Coalition for Life, which requires candidates to prove they "do not justify abortion for innocent babies who are conceived through rape or incest." By my count, 34 co-sponsors of the bill were also endorsed and/or funded by RNCL. It shouldn't be shocking: The goal is no abortions for rape survivors. Because the goal is no abortions, for anyone.

Still, no one wants to be the guy who stands up and says that he's eliminating medical coverage for molested children. For some reason, that's an unpopular stance. Which is why the 183 politicians who sponsor H.R. 3 aren't saying it: They're just quietly changing the language. They want to appear to be preserving exemptions, while eliminating them in practice. They probably hoped no one would notice.

The bill has 173 co-sponsors. Here are the Pennsylvania representatives on the list. If yours is here you might call and ask him how he defines forcible rape and why he wants the families of raped tween girls to be denied access to abortion services if they feel that is the best recourse in their situation.

PA Co-Sponsors:

Lou Barletta (PA-11)
Mark Critz (PA-12)
Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)
Jim Gerlach (PA-06)
Tim Marino (PA-10)
Tim Murphy (PA-18)
Joe Pitts (PA-16)
Bill Shuster (PA-09)
Glenn Thompson (PA-05)

That is nearly one half of our Congressional delegation.


Penn Action said...

Thank you so much for this post. It has become an invaluable resource for me. I linked to it from the Penn ACTION blog but the link broke. Will try to fix.

AboveAvgJane said...