House Republicans wasted no time in declaring their legislative priorities for the 112th Congress. The first: repeal health care for millions of Americans. The second: redefine rape. A day after repealing health care, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act, a bill that would not only permanently prohibit some federally funded health-care programs from covering abortions, but would change the language exempting rape and incest from rape to “forcible rape.”More at Think Progress
By narrowing the Hyde Amendment language, Republicans would exclude the following situations from coverage: women who say no but do not physically fight off the perpetrator, women who are drugged or verbally threatened and raped, and minors impregnated by adults. As the National Women’s Law Center’s Steph Sterling puts it, this new standard of force “takes us back to a time where just saying no was not enough.”
And yet, 172 Republicans — including sixteen women — and lone Democrat Rep. Daniel Lipinski (IL), chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus — readily support the new standard. Appalled at such a cavalier attack on women’s rights, one House member is not taking the change lightly. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) “fiercely denounced” her conservative colleagues for this “absolutely outrageous” dilution of victims’ rights. Enraged at the suggestion that “there is some kind of rape that would be okay,” Wasserman Schultz told The Raw Story that she considers the bill itself to be “a violent act against women”:
“It is absolutely outrageous,” Wasserman Schultz said in an exclusive interview late Monday afternoon. “I consider the proposal of this bill a violent act against women.”[...]
“It really is — to suggest that there is some kind of rape that would be okay to force a woman to carry the resulting pregnancy to term, and abandon the principle that has been long held, an exception that has been settled for 30 years, is to me a violent act against women in and of itself,” Wasserman Schultz said.