Opinion Brief

Why did Republicans drop the 'forcible rape' rule?

Facing a battle over the definition of rape, House Republicans have dropped the word "forcible" from their anti-abortion bill. Why did they back down?

House Republicans have quietly dropped controversial language from a bill restricting the use of federal money to cover abortions. The bill, which aims to make permanent the annually renewed Hyde Amendment ban on taxpayer funding for abortions, would have allowed coverage only in the case of "forcible rape," instead of the broader existing language, "rape and incest." That had critics accusng the GOP of trying to redefine rape. Now the bill's backers have reverted to the original language. Why did they give in? (Watch a discussion about the controversy)

"Forcible rape" was just a tactical "shiny object": Unlike Democrats, "conservatives understand the art of negotiation," says Heather "Digby" Parton in Hullabaloo. So the "heinousness" of the "forcible rape" provision isn't an accident: The language was included for "the express purpose of creating a firestorm," so Republicans could "compromise" with Democrats and still get their awful, far-reaching bill passed.
"Look at the shiny object"

Conservatives gave up nothing: "Forcible" didn't really add or detract anything from the bill, says John McCormack in The Weekly Standard, so it's better to drop the "redundant" word than give "Democrats the opportunity to smear pro-lifers." The Hyde Amendment already bans support for most "statutory rape" abortions, and other types of rape are "committed against that person's will, i.e. forcibly." So who cares if we "simply make explicit" the status quo?
"Jon Stewart regurgitates bogus Mother Jones story..."

The bill still has problems: "Forcible rape" was a "red herring," but "there's still plenty of rotten in this pile of fish," says Tommy Christopher in Mediaite. Proponents of the bill argue that its just a continuation of the Hyde Amendment, but it does way more than affect government spending: It also taxes private health plans that cover abortions to the point that they're "poisonous" to employers and individuals. Whether you approve of abortion or not, that's a "clear contravention of the law of the land."
"GOP blinks on 'forcible rape,' but bill still cuts deeply at abortion rights"

Recommended

Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone to testify before Jan. 6 committee
Pat Cipollone.
finally

Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone to testify before Jan. 6 committee

Lindsey Graham's attorneys say he'll challenge Georgia grand jury subpoena
Sen. Lindsey Graham.
see you in court

Lindsey Graham's attorneys say he'll challenge Georgia grand jury subpoena

Boris Johnson refuses to quit despite mass resignations
Boris Johnson
'he has lost it'

Boris Johnson refuses to quit despite mass resignations

Only 5 percent of Americans rank abortion as their biggest concern, poll finds
Pro-life demonstrators
moving the needle?

Only 5 percent of Americans rank abortion as their biggest concern, poll finds

Most Popular

Rogan says he's declined interviews with Trump: 'I don't want to help him'
Joe Rogan
not invited

Rogan says he's declined interviews with Trump: 'I don't want to help him'

Joey Chestnut body slams animal-rights protester, wins hot dog eating contest
Joey Chestnut
hot diggity dog

Joey Chestnut body slams animal-rights protester, wins hot dog eating contest

Theaters ban teens in suits from Minions after viral TikTok meme
Minions: The Rise of Gru
suit up

Theaters ban teens in suits from Minions after viral TikTok meme