The Implications of Redefining Rape

Normally I try to avoid talking about the same general topics two weeks in a row, but the Republicans and a few Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have forced my hand.  Misogyny strikes again!

While there are many problems with HR3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion” Act, the Republicans in congress have faced a firestorm of criticism over one particular section:

‘The limitations established in sections 301, 302, 303, and 304 shall not apply to an abortion—

‘(1) if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest; or

‘(2) in the case where the pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the pregnant female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.

Nowhere in federal law or in the remarks of the bill’s proponents has anyone defined “forcible rape,” which begs the question: When is rape not forcible?  Further, by the bill’s own language, statutory rape is no longer considered rape unless it is “forcible” (whatever that means) or incestuous.  In essence, this clause has the potential to leave women who are drugged, inebriated, or who do not openly resist (whether out of fear or inability) without federal protection and with few options for terminating a pregnancy resulting from rape if they do not have the funds to pay for an abortion.

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