House GOP Anti-woman Language Struck from “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”by Stephen Littau
In an attempt to restrict the practice of federal tax funded abortions, the House GOP committed one of the most incredible political PR blunders imaginable: narrowing the definition of rape to “forcible rape.” The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” included provisions that would in fact allow for taxpayer funded abortions provided that the pregnancy was the result of such a rape.
So what kinds of rape were excluded? Women who are drugged, intoxicated, mentally incapacitated, under age (i.e. statutory rape), and even date rape victims did not qualify under the House bill’s definition of “forcible rape.” While I do think each of these things should be debated in a criminal justice context, its wholly inappropriate here.
Here’s another example of abortion opponents needlessly taking the issue in to legal territory it need not go. I’ve never quite understood why pro-lifers are so eager to say that there’s no such thing as a right to privacy (though the 4th and
10th 9th Amendments say otherwise) to argue that Roe v. Wade was incorrectly decided. In the case of redefining rape in this legislation, House Republicans could have potentially put women in danger had they had their way. All they really needed to say was “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion.” Period.
Forget about the whole issue of abortion in the context of this language. It’s not difficult to see why this language wouldn’t play well among women – even to pro-life women. Surly some of these congressmen have daughters, sisters, or mothers? If one of the women they loved was drugged and raped, would they really have the nerve to say that the non-consensual sex was somehow not a rape?
If the bill did somehow become law of the land, it’s not difficult to see how a criminal defense lawyer might use the law to benefit his client: “Your Honor, my client in fact did not commit rape at least as defined in the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’…he put something in her drink to ‘get her in the mood’ and he likewise took a Viagra.”
Maybe that’s a little farfetched – I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer and don’t even play one on TV. It does seem dangerous though to start redefining words like rape in such a careless fashion.
Fortunately, the offending language was taken out of the bill today due to pressure from various activist organizations but the damage to the sponsors of this bill is surely already done. I fully expect this issue will resurface in attack ads in the next election cycle. This time, the attacks will be well deserved.