Yesterday I wrote about H.R. 3, a bill co-sponsored by several Pennsylvania congressional representatives, including Bucks County's Mike Fitzpatrick. The bill would not allow federal funds to be used for abortions in the case of rape unless the rape was forcible. No definition of forcible was given. The GOP has backpedaled from this wording now, saying it had not intended to redefine rape. (See "GOP loses 'forcible rape' language," by Jonathan Allen, Politco, 2/03) But I think it's important to remember who supported that legislation in its original form.
This evening I reviewed the definitions of rape in the Uniform Crime Reports, including a note that in cases of statutory rape people are encourage to question "10 or 12 year olds" regarding their giving of consent. That makes my skin crawl.
During Mike Fitzpatrick's first term in Congress, he sponsored a bill called the Rape Prevention and Education Grant Program Act of 2005. The Findings section of that bill states:
(1) According to the FBI's 2004 Uniform Crime Report, the only violent crime to show any increase from 2003 to 2004 was forcible rape at 0.8 percent.
(2) In America, 302,091 women and 92,748 men are raped each year, and 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men has experienced an attempted or completed rape as a child or adult.
(3) Sexual violence starts very early in life. More than half of all rapes of women (54 percent) occur before age 18; 22 percent of these rapes occur before age 12. For men, 75 percent of all rapes occur before age 18, and 48 percent occur before age 12.
(4) Victims of sexual violence may experience a variety of long-term physical and psychological consequences such as chronic pelvic, head, back and facial pain; gastrointestinal and eating disorders; substance abuse; depression; and suicidal thoughts and attempts. Sexual violence has a devastating impact on individuals, families, communities, and our society as a whole.
(5) Total costs of rape and sexual assault are estimated to be $127 billion a year in the United States (excluding children), including the loss of productivity, damage of personal property, use of medical and mental health care, police and fire, social/victim services, and negative effect on the victims quality of life.
(6) More than two-thirds of rape and sexual assault victims are assaulted by someone they know, almost 40 percent by someone they know very well, such as a boyfriend or a spouse. Only 30 percent are sexually assaulted by strangers.
Granted you can't expect a congressional representative to remember every single bill they sponsored or co-sponsored (in his initial 2 year term Fitzpatrick sponsored or co-sponsored over 300 bills), but this does seem very contradictory. In 2005 he sponsors legislation in response to his findings that 54% of the females raped were under 18 and a whopping 22% were under 12! Only 30% of those who are sexually assaulted are attacked by a stranger. Almost 40% are assaulted by "someone they know very well."
And yet 5 years later he signs on as a co-sponsor of a bill that restricts the ability of those assaulted to a full range of health care options unless their rape is "forcible." H. R. 3 made no provision for statutory rape so those under 12 were out of luck unless they could come up with some proof of force. Remember that the average age of menarche in the U.S. these days is 12. It's not unheard of for 10 and 11 year olds to become pregnant. A year ago an 11 year old in the U.S. gave birth (See "Girl, 11, gives birth to baby boy in Northeast hospital," by Jessica Ryen Doyle, Fox News, Feb. 5th, 2010). An obstetrician specializing in high risk pregnancies listed some of the risk factors:
Al-Khan said other medical challenges facing a pregnant girl as young as 10 or 11 include:
— The pelvis is not defined for natural childbirth;
— The vagina could sustain injury during a natural birth;
— The patient is at high risk for preeclampsia, a pregnancy condition marked by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, and which can lead to convulsions and multi-system organ failure;
— A higher risk of pre-term labor and delivery, which would mean the baby’s size would be compromised, leaving the baby at risk for developmental issues, fetal growth restriction and chromosomal abnormalities;
— Higher incidence of stillbirth;
— Higher incidence of cholestasis of pregnancy, a condition caused by the blockage of bile, which can lead to stillbirth and placenta issues;
— A chance of developing fatty liver, which can be fatal.
Later he says:
Al-Khan said it was likely that the possibility of terminating the baby would have come up in this case, because as sensitive a subject as it is, going through with the pregnancy would be a greater risk than having an abortion.
H. R. 3, which Congressman Fitzpatrick co-sponsored, as originally worded would bring us more teen and pre-teen, 10, 11, and 12 year old mothers.