Republicans redefine rape for the 21st (or should that be 19th?) century

Nick Baumann brings us the news that the House Republican Majority is planning to re-define rape. To wit:

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

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. (Smith’s spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)…

Laurie Levenson, a former assistant US attorney and expert on criminal law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, notes that the new bill’s authors are “using language that’s not particularly clear, and some people are going to lose protection.” Other types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes. “There are a lot of aspects of rape that are not included,” Levenson says.

This is the product of a party that is completely clueless about women’s issues – a party run by men, for men. The democrats may not be perfect on the subject themselves, but the simple fact that a large majority of their electorate is female means that they actually have to try to understand things from a woman’s point of view. The reality is that there are many instances where women are unable to freely consent to sexual relations. It’s not just men physically forcing themselves upon women, though that’s obviously the historical definition of the act. It’s far more complicated than that – something that European countries understand more and more, which is why the definition of rape has grown over the years. It’s a shame that the Republicans’ sophomoric frat-boy world view prevents them from understanding that.


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