Republicans Redefine Rape
House Republicans introduced a bill last week to expand restrictions on the federal funding of abortions. H.R. 3—the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”—would limit the use of federal funds for abortions to “forcible rape.”
As the law stands now, the only times federal funds may be used for an abortion are in cases of rape, incest, and where the health of the mother is at risk. Republicans were hoping to narrow the amount of abortions by redefining rape as “forcible rape”—as if there were any other kind.
By definition, rape is the crime of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with him or her without their consent and against their will, especially by the threat or use of violence against them. Therefore, an attempt to narrow the definition of rape is an attempt to redefine the crime in its entirety. Needless to say, even the staunchest of pro-life advocates would have to admit this recent legislative maneuver by the GOP is a rather deplorable stunt.
Last year the federal government paid for 191 abortions at the cost of exactly two-tenths of a penny to each taxpayer. One would have to question if cutting into the 191 federally-funded abortions for rape was part of the mandate Republicans claim they received from the American public when they took the House back last year. Many thought the mandate was about jobs and the deficit, not abortions. As of yesterday, not one bill has been introduced to create jobs—although Wednesday they did put forth a plan to cut $32 billion from agency budgets.
An interesting sub plot to this story is the emergence of The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart as an actual political force to be reckoned with, twice shaming Congress into passing or altering legislation—first with the Zadroga Bill (9/11 Health Responders Bill) and now with H.R. 3. Republicans agreed, not so coincidentally after the measure made national headlines on The Daily Show, to remove the incendiary language from the bill.