Give them credit: It's only January, but the new Republican-controlled House is already obnoxiously redefining "rape" in pieces of legislation. Under their plan, only abortions from "forcible rape" would be eligible for government funding, instead of the much simpler "rape."
The House Republicans' second major legislative masterwork since coming into power — the first being a symbolic go-nowhere bill to repeal the Democrats' health care reform law — is called the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." Direct taxpayer funding for abortion has been outlawed since 1976. But the new health care law brought back this debate about what counts as "taxpayer funding for abortion." What about government tax breaks or subsidies for plans that include abortion coverage? The GOP's new bill, among other things, would eliminate the health insurance tax-deduction for any plans that offer abortion coverage, meaning those plans would cease to exist.
But for years, there have been exceptions for abortions that are eligible for federal funding: In case of rape, incest, and when the pregnancy endangers the mother's life. The "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" would make some changes to trifecta! Mother Jones' Nick Baumann reports:
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. (Smith's spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)
Other types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes.
The fact that "forcible rape" has no real meaning as a federal legal term makes this all the more obnoxious.
Oh, and what about the incest exception? "As for the incest exception, the bill would only allow federally funded abortions if the woman is under 18." You figure out the rationale on that one.
This bill almost certainly will die in the Senate, because that's what happens to House Republican bills. But some senator could always come along and singlehandedly screw up everything. That's the whole point of the Senate.
[via Washington Monthly, Image of Reps. Chris Smith and John Boehner discussing their abortion bill via AP]