Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Collin Peterson Joins GOP in Seeking to Redefine Rape

Is rape still rape even when it's not committed by force? If the proposed "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" (HR 3) clears the US House, the answer will be "no." 

There are already federal laws in place that restrict taxpayer funding for abortions in cases other than rape or incest. Polls have consistently show that the majority of Americans (from both camps of the abortion issue) support such exemptions. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that 81% believe that abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest. This new law would seek to further such restrictions by redefining exactly what types of rape or incest are valid.

In this bill, "rape" would be changed to "forcible rape"- a term that is not clearly defined, but would likely exclude such instances as being drugged and raped, statutory rape, incapacitated to the extent that one is unable to consent, rape through coercion or threats (to the victim or their family), or being unable to consent due to developmental disabilities. I also fear that it will put greater burden on victims. In many cases, it is hard enough to prove that you were raped, now you must prove that it was done with enough force to justify the term. I guess "no" means "no" unless you don't put up enough of a fight to actually prove that you meant what you said in the first place.

Incest exemptions would only qualify for victims who are minors. If you are 18 or older, it will be treated as a consensual act between adults. Hypothetically speaking this could exclude girls who were victimized throughout their childhood as long as they didn't get pregnant until after their 18th birthday.

Mother Jones points out that this bill restricts tax benefits from being used to cover abortion services. This means your HSA money cannot be used and any expenses you incur will not be deductible. Tax credits offered to purchase healthcare plans would not be able to be used for any policy that has abortion coverage.

As expected, the DCCC has already posted a petition encouraging people to "denounce Republicans' extremist legislation." But it should be noted that although this bill was authored by a Republican and primarily supported by Republicans, it also currently has ten Democratic co-sponsors, including the 7th District's own Collin Peterson.

I shouldn't be surprised. I really shouldn't. These days even Tony Sutton seems to think that Collin Peterson is a Republican. But it's still frustrating. If you want to take a stand on abortion, that's fine. But don't go after victims of rape and incest in the process.

If you feel as strongly about this as I do, especially those of you in the 7th CD,  I encourage you to contact Rep. Peterson.

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