Republican bill seeking to cut federal funding for abortions has triggered a fight over women's rights, with activists accusing the GOP of trying to narrow the definition of rape in order to reduce the number of abortion cases in which coverage would be allowed. The bill would permanently extend the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federally funded health care programs from covering abortions with a few exceptions, including rape and incest cases. But under the new law, "rape" becomes "forcible rape." Is that an attempt to exclude certain types of sexual assault, such as statutory rape, or are the critics twisting the language to stir up opposition to the bill? (Watch a Russia Today discussion about the bill)
The GOP is trying to shut out some rape victims: "There's no way this change is accidental," says Sady Doyle in Salon. "And there's no way it's minor." This legislation would exclude adult victims of incest, women who were raped while drugged or unconscious, and survivors of statutory rape. In fact, "about 70 percent of rapes wouldn't fall under the 'forcible' designation," so there is no way to interpret this other than as a cruel attempt to deny victims care by denying that many of them were raped at all.
"John Boehner's push to redefine rape"
Do not listen to the liberal "scare tactics": The supporters of this bill have no intention of redefining rape, says Kathryn Jean Lopez in National Review. They have said, explicitly, that the same women who would be granted exceptions under the current policy, which has to be renewed each year, would be covered under the proposed permanent version. The Left is just using "scare tactics" to convince people that House Speaker John Boehner and his new Republican majority are out to "take over our personal lives." That's just not true.
"Scare tactics gone wild"
This would magnify victims' trauma: Many rape victims already have to contend with "sexist, suspicious medical and police officials," says Amanda Marcotte in RH Reality Check. If this bill passes, women who have been impregnated by their assaulters will have to "convince bureaucrats" that they were "beaten enough, threatened enough, in enough fear of their lives before they are allowed funding to avoid giving birth to a rapist’s child." This adds "insult to injury" for women who have already suffered far too much.
"Legislative rape: GOP seeks to end abortion assistance to rape victims"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why Easter is so important to Christians
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why would a young person today be religious?
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- There's a number of reasons the grammar of this headline could infuriate you
- How Captain America won over China
Subscribe to the Week