Yet another one for the WTF files.
In an attempt to cater to their ultra-conservative, anti-abortion base, Republicans in the House of Representatives introduced the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” which aims to limit federal funding for abortions solely to women who have been “forcibly raped.” That means if a woman becomes pregnant due to a date rape, is a victim of statutory rape, or is raped when mentally incapacitated (or intoxicated), too bad…they’d no longer be able to obtain an abortion while on Medicaid, Medicare, or any other government funded health care plan.
Although taxpayer funds cannot, by law, go toward funding abortions, for years certain situations such as rape, incest, and a threat to mother’s life has been exempt from the law. However, According to Nick Baumann of Mother Jones, the new initiative by House Republicans would drastically limit the scope of what is considered rape.
“With this legislation, which was introduced 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. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion.”
Rightfully, women’s groups are up in arms about the proposed legislation. Many worry that changing the funding exemption of rape to “forcible rape” is a slippery slope, especially considering “forcible rape” is an ambiguous term and has not been legally defined.
“This bill takes us back to a time when just saying ‘no’ wasn’t enough to qualify as rape,” said Steph Sterling, a lawyer and senior adviser to the National Women’s Law Center.
I also wonder how this change, if passed, would disproportionally affect poor women, many of which are minorities and are more likely to need Medicaid and Medicare to cover their healthcare needs.
Thankfully, pro-choice Democrats still hold an advantage in the Senate, which means the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” will most likely stall in the House. Still, many pro-life conservatives (both Democrats and Republicans) seem hell bent on restricting a woman’s right to choose, even when they need it most.