Hey, GOP: A Rape by Any Other Name is Still a Rape

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Have you ever been getting raped and wondered if you should fight harder to not get raped, even if it meant you might be killed, because if you got knocked up from the rape you might not be able to afford to terminate it, and if you were on Medicaid or used a tax-preferred account like an HSA, they would reject the claim because maybe you weren't getting raped after all?

Well, ladies, put away your rape kits. According to right-wing legislators, you probably just didn't get raped anyway.

Sure, you might have been violated in some weird way, I guess — on a date with that guy who doesn't understand "no," by that older dude who keeps talking you into sex, by that caretaker who knows your ability to object has been compromised, by that family member who has shamed you into silence. But it definitely (probably?) wasn't rape. At least not according to the 173 members of Congress who have co-sponsored the sneakily semantic No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act — which should be renamed, The "Hey, I hope your 13-year-old doesn't get knocked up by some 24-year-old dude she's not related to" Act.

Not only does it limit abortion access with taxpayer funds, it redefines what rape is ... and with such vague-yet-narrow language as to be utterly confounding:

‘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;

‘(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.

Exceptions have long been made for rape, incest and life-endangering physical conditions when it comes to terminating pregnancies, and this act focuses on a narrow group of women. Medicaid only covers 85 or 90 abortions yearly, plus there are other restrictions on taxpayer funds being used toward abortion anyway.

But it's that tiny margin that is driving the anti-choice crowd crazy. And the "forcible" part has pro-choice advocates crying foul and pleading with the American public and Congress: Don't let the right wing redefine rape.

What if the rapist doesn't use force? What if he (and 99 percent of them are a he) coerces you? Drugs you? Intimidates you? Takes advantage of you while you are sleeping? Drunk? Injured? Compromised? When is your rape rape-rape or just, ya know, a little bit rape? How raped must you be? Frat-house raped or Congo raped? It sounds like if the GOP has its way, it's that vague in-between kind of rape, the kind that people who don't think you should have a choice over whether to terminate a pregnancy would want it to be.

But wait! How do you prove you've been forcibly raped? With your untested rape kit? A doctor's note? A testimony before John Boehner? A walk of shame? Or a conviction in a court of law, which must obviously take place in time for you to terminate the pregnancy?

Worth contemplating:

One illustrative example: There was a rape case where a woman was physically thrown onto a mattress by her assailant, and in order to “prove” that physically forcing someone onto a mattress was not force, the defendant had to somehow argue that she wasn’t thrown hard enough. The question was raised of whether she bounced, when she hit the mattress. And in this case, the fact that the woman said “no” had already been admitted by the accused. The “no” wasn’t enough, and the fact that she was thrown onto the mattress wasn’t enough: She had to bounce off the mattress, for this to constitute either “rape” or “force.” The “did she bounce” standard — that is, essentially, what we’re requiring when we require “force” in order to define rape. That particular rapist walked free. He was initially convicted, but the case was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. On the basis of “did she bounce.” And this happened in 1994.

Furthermore, this act targets low-income women (shocker), for which we can only hope doing so guarantees you a special place in hell. As Donna Crane, NARAL Pro-Choice America puts it, these even greater restrictions are "unbelievably cruel and heartless."

If you agree, tweet Boehner here (who says this act is a top Congressional priority), and call your Tennessee Congressfolk co-sponsoring this act (who did not return my calls) here:

Marsha Blackburn: 202-225-2811
Scott DesJarlais: 202-22-6531
Phil Roe: 202-225-6531
John Duncan: 202-225-5435

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