Anti-Choice Congressmen Seek to Redefine Rape

The illustrious Nick Baumann dives deeper into the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion" bill introduced last week and finds that the proposed bill actually seeks to narrow the definition of rape.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion.

Much of the time when prominent rape cases are discussed in the news, there seems to be an effort to separate non-consensual acts between regular sexual partners or acquaintance rape from what Whoopi Goldberg once called "rape rape" -- or stereotypical encounters in which a stranger assaults a woman, forces sex upon her, and beats her.

But according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), roughly two-thirds of all rapes were committed by someone known to the victim. Thirty-eight percent of rapes are committed by a friend or acquaintance, and 28 percent are committed by someone with whom the victim is already intimate. RAINN also estimates that 3,204 pregnancies occurred as the result of rape in the 2004-2005 period.

But should the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion" bill be passed, it would narrow the exception for abortion to this so-called forcible rape, which, as Baumann points out, isn't defined by the criminal code, and the bill itself doesn't offer a definition. Much like the term "partial-birth abortion," which limited the termination of late-term pregnancies, this anti-choice bill is putting non-specific, ill-defined words into legislation in hopes of further narrowing a woman's options for terminating a pregnancy.

-- Kay Steiger

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