I’ve gotten about five emails this week from Planned Parenthood, but I’m not complaining; they’re as upset as I am about the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. In essence, the Bill plans to make sure that all abortions must be paid for out of pocket, further limiting the options available to women who are considering whether or not they want to have a child. But the section that has received the most press isn’t particularly about health care, and the original language is as follows:
“‘The limitations established in sections 301, 302, 303, and 304 shall not apply to an abortion–
(1) if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest; or
(2) in the case where the pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the pregnant female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.”
To sum up: If a woman is pregnant because she was raped or a victim of incest, or is in danger of injury to herself because of the pregnancy or a pre-existing condition, she can have an abortion funded by health insurance of any kind, and there are no admitted limitations on her actions. As if limiting women’s right to choose wasn’t enough, the Bill creates a moral hierarchy with this clause. The lawmakers supporting this Bill have decided that abortion is evil for every woman, but excusable for these specific situations; rape and incest. Within those scenarios, there’s a further hierarchy: “forcible” rape (seemingly in opposition to “grey rape”), and acts of incest that occur towards those under eighteen, become higher than rape or incest as general categories.
Facing mounting pressure, “The word forcible will be replaced with the original language from the Hyde Amendment,” Representative Smith spokesman Jeff Sagnip told POLITICO. Now the Bill will merely do the work that the Hyde Amendment has done since 1976. The dismissal of the term “forcible rape” was torn apart by The Daily Show on Wednesday night, perhaps prompting the GOP to clarify their position.
Concurrently, I can’t decide which aspect of the original Bill is worse. It’s attack on the very definition of rape, and the right of a woman to an abortion. It’s managed to potentially hurt women on both fronts. Pro-life advocates who support the Bill inherently support creating moral hierarchies within areas of personal choice. Though I hope that even in its new form it’s unlikely it will gain enough support to make waves, the continued attacks upon the right to choose (and the chipping away of support for rape victims) make this such an incredibly difficult move to comprehend. It makes me fear for the future. So to Planned Parenthood: Keep those emails coming.
Additionally, Talking Points Memo via Gawker points out that the bill, introduced by Representative Smith (R-NJ), hasn’t been discussed much by the Republicans behind it. Also, for those who need a visual, please check out exactly who is supporting this Bill.