Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Republicans to Rape Victims: F**k You
Everybody knows that the Republicans believe in individual rights for "we the people." Except, of course, when it comes to rights for people other than rich white men, who, as we all know, are the only people who count. It was good enough for the framers of the constitution, right?
High on their list of rights to roll back is the right of women to control their own bodies, which puts legal abortion front and center. Hoping to further erode the landmark Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion in the U.S., Republicans have come up with a shocking and disturbing plan of attack: they want to redefine rape, in effect decriminalizing "nonviolent" rape so that even fewer poor women who are victims of crime can count on government assistance to terminate the resulting pregnancies. The laws now on the books -- which I disagree with -- try to limit federal funding of abortion; hypocritically these laws recognize that pregnancies resulting from violence should be special cases. But even that level of sensitivity is too much for the Republicans. If it's not "violent rape," hey, it's no big deal! That woman has no right to have her insurance pay for abortion!
Mother Jones spells it out: with legislation introduced in Congress "last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to 'forcible rape.' This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible..." It's called the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," it has 173 Republican co-sponsors and weeper of the house John Boehner says it's a priority.
According to Planned Parenthood: "Republicans took control of Congress on a promise to create jobs, but instead, one of their first acts is to take away health insurance benefits that the majority of women currently have. The true intent of Congressman Chris Smith’s bill is to end insurance coverage for virtually all abortions, including private insurance coverage that Americans pay for with their own money, even in cases involving the most severe dangers to a woman's health."
The issue is simple. The Republicans want to turn the clock back to the days when abortion was illegal. To do so they are willing to redefine rape to make some of it, in effect, less criminal. All those "mamma grizzlies" notwithstanding, this legislation just goes to show their blatant disregard for the fundamental humanity and equality of women. This legislation is part of a broader assault on legal abortion itself, and ultimately on the constitutional civil rights that protect all of us non-rich-white-men.
Back in the early sixties my parents were part of a network that took in single unwed mothers who knew they would be unable to keep their children. The network placed these young pregnant women in settings that would allow them to safely get away from their lives, have their babies, give the children up for adoption, and then return to their lives without stigma from their communities. It was one of the many work-arounds to abortion being illegal, the worst of which of course was the back-alley coat-hanger abortion which often resulted in death or serious injury to the pregnant woman. Those days must not be allowed to return.