The Republican Party, just weeks after taking over the House of Representatives by accusing Democrats of not creating enough jobs, has added injury to insult. In addition to ignoring the jobs mandate, Republicans have now introduced a bill that redefines rape and incest as only that which is “forcible.”
The bill, HR 3, which follows last week’s bill to repeal health care reform, would deny federal funding even for abortions resulting from rape or incest if there wasn’t sufficient “force” involved.
A major provision would make permanent the Hyde Amendment, which prevents some federally funded health-care programs from covering abortions. Until now it has allowed exemptions in cases of rape and incest, and when the life of the woman is threatened.
Under the new Republican bill, however, the term rape is changed to “forcible rape.” Women’s rights advocates point out that the modifier “forcible” distinguishes it from other kinds of sexual assault that have long been recognized as rape, including statutory rape and attacks that occur because of drugs or verbal threats.
The Republican move to narrow the definition of rape makes “a distinction between rape where there must be some element of force in order to rise to the standard, and rape where there is not,” said Steph Sterling, director of government relations for the National Women’s Law Center. “The concern here is that it brings us back to a time when just saying no was not enough.”
Some GOP lawmakers seem to be unaware of the problems in the bill they are backing.
One senior GOP aide said he interpreted the wording as “merely” preventing coverage for minors who engage in consensual sex that results in pregnancy.
The bill is apparently only one in a long list of measures the GOP plans to introduce that cater to right-wing concerns and ignore job creation.
“The new Congress was elected by promising things to voters, but now in office they are doing different things,” said OurFuture.org’s Dave Johnson on Feb. 1. “It is as if they said what they needed to say (about jobs) to get votes, but had a plan to do something else all along. The big question on everyone’s mind: ‘where is the job creation effort they promised?'”
Other bills House Republicans are working on are HR 4, a bill that says companies don’t have to report payments of $600 or more to the IRS, and “medical tort reform,” which would make it almost impossible for injured patients to sue for damages and also limit to $250,000 what they could collect, regardless of the harm caused by a hospital.
HR 10 would prevent the executive branch from issuing any new regulations, HR 25 would repeal the income tax and abolish the IRS, and HR 39 would take polar bears off the endangered species list.
HR 87 would repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the financial reform measure that was approved by Congress last year.