Shorter GOP: Tax breaks for everyone, except those pregnant teenage rape victims, the dirty whores

This piece is reposted  with the permission of Amanda Marcotte  from Pandagon. I highly recommend Pandagon as a must read Feminist Blog.

From Pandagon:

Amanda Marcotte *

January 30, 2011

HR3, misleadingly named the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”, is a perfect storm of everything that’s nasty about the modern, hyper-conservative Republican party.  It’s dishonest, since women who have federal health insurance are already banned from using that money for abortion care.  This bill is actually an attempt to shut down abortion coverage through all private insurance, including employer-provided insurance, which means that it’s beyond even the dreadful Stupak-Pitts amendment/executive order.  Some “small government”.  As Rachel Maddow documented, this bill is just the most egregious example of how the GOP basically hoodwinked the voters.  They ran on “creating jobs”, which they clearly have no intention of doing, since they’re going to be too busy looking for ways to put the screws to everyone they hate, a long list that includes poor people, people who read a lot, gays, and basically all women, but especially the most vulnerable in our society.

Which is why they rushed out this bill, which I’d call the “Economic Crisis Is A Good Time To Rain Hell On American Women In Need Act”.  In fact, John Boehner called this bill a “top priority”.  We have 10% unemployment, but making sure that abortions are only a privilege for those who can pay out of pocket on a moment’s notice is the GOP’s top priority.

Sadly, the mainstream media (outside of a handful of awesome fighters, like Rachel Maddow, Nicholas Kristof, and Bob Herbert) has gotten inured to relentless attacks on women from conservatives, and subsequently fail to properly understand that a bill like this is pure misogyny, with a giant side dose of class warfare.  They’ve failed to cover the nefarious workings of Rep. Chris Smith from New Jersey, who competes regularly in the heavy competition in Congress for the title Biggest Misogynist, and who has made a special pet project out of trying to shut down any foreign aid that would include contraception, and who has accused Secretary Clinton of being a friend to child rapists because she believes child rape victims should get medical care.  But as you’ll see, Chris Smith is actually the worst enemy in Congress a minor victim of rape could have, starting with the fact that he seems to believe they’re lying sluts who need to be punished.

Smith’s egregious misogyny is why this bill, HR3, has a strong chance of getting more media attention and political pushback than we initially thought it would.  See, on top of the usual routine of denying abortion services to the most vulnerable, exploiting a terrible economic situation to make people’s lives even worse, and straight up lying, Smith also decided to wedge one more pet project into this bill, which is rape apologism.  And that is what finally broke everyone’s capacity to put up with this shit anymore.

See, HR3 has—like the Hyde Amendment—a provision in it that carves out an exception for rape, incest, and the health/life of the mother. But because anti-choicers like Smith are such ruthless misogynists, they tend to believe the misogynist stereotype that all women, especially those who claim to be ill or victims of crimes, are lying whores until proven otherwise.  Or just lying whores, regardless of the evidence they produce.  And so, to make sure those lying whores don’t get their hands on those delicious, orgasm-inducing uterine scrapings, the bill has language in it that, in essence, assumes that 70% of rape victims weren’t really raped.  The exception is only for “forcible rape”, which is vaguely defined, but in practice tends to mean that anything short of getting your ass beat down means you weren’t “really” raped.  Even if you’re a 13-year-old who was impregnated by a 30-year-old.  Also, if you happen to get pregnant by your abusive, rape-y father on your 18th birthday, you will get no funding to make sure you don’t give birth to your own brother.  Consent is implied if you’re female under these guidelines, and consent to sex with your male relatives is implied the second you turn 18.

Functionally, rape exceptions to abortion bans (or, in this case, bans on private funding of abortion) are useless, because you have to fill out all this paperwork that then gets shuffled around until it’s too late and you’re forced, out of desperation, to pay out of pocket.  The example of the Hyde Amendment is a good one.  The conservative estimate puts the number of rape-caused abortions at 9,100 a year. 42% of women who have abortions are at or below the federal poverty line.  Another 27% make up to 199% of the federal poverty level, which still makes them low income, since 199% of the federal poverty level is $21500 for a single woman with no children. But, of course, most women who get abortions already have children.  I don’t know what percentage of women who have abortions are on or eligible for Medicaid, but these number should give you a solid indication that it’s a lot. And yet Medicaid only pays for about 80-90 abortions a year, and I’m guessing that most of those are health exceptions that are easier to document.  Should this bill go into law, that means that basically no one, rich or poor or in-between, would get insurance coverage for abortions required because they were raped.

Functionally, there is no rape exception when there’s a “rape exception”.  If you’re raped, and abortion is restricted to people of your class, rape exceptions are meaningless.  You could define rape as broadly as you wanted, and still the number of women who’d get past the exception would be virtually none.  The only real result of narrowing the definition of “rape” to exclude women who were asleep, drugged, cornered with little chance of escape, minor children, and basically anyone who didn’t fight within an inch of her life is mostly symbolic, and what it symbolizes is support for rape culture and hatred of women, particularly rape victims.  It’s the GOP (and some anti-choice Democrats) signing off on the idea that you asked for it.  And because you’re a bad girl who asks for it, you should be punished further with forced childbirth. Even if you’re a child.

When you’re trying to fight rape culture, it’s a real setback to have all these powerful political leaders basically say that the majority of rape victims weren’t really raped, because they were still walking after the fact.

This needless kicking women after you’ve pushed them down has pushed Sady Doyle into starting another online campaign against HR3.  If you want to join, please tweet against it with the hashtag #dearjohn, and please direct letters and tweet replies towards your representatives. There are many angles to work this: the rape angle, the GOP’s consistent hostility to rape victims, the class warfare angle, the fact that the GOP is prioritizing attacking women over creating jobs, etc.

One thing I do want to note is that the blog posts and tweets I’ve seen on this so far have mostly concentrated on Medicaid and recipients of government aid for health care.  I definitely think that’s great; we need to highlight how abortion restrictions are always about class warfare, because safe abortions are usually not that hard for privileged women to get, even on the black market.  But this bill is not just an assault on the neediest.  It’s actually a restriction on all insurance coverage for abortion.  Which is bad enough, but with these rape restrictions, it’s a nightmare.  I don’t care if you’re a millionaire; paying out of pocket for an abortion after you’ve been raped to satisfy the sadistic urges of some anti-choice asshole in Congress is still awful.  But beyond that, it’s important to understand this this isn’t an either/or issue.  That someone isn’t on Medicaid or even that she has employer-provided insurance doesn’t mean she’s swimming in privilege and can simply pay cash for an abortion at the drop of a hat.  Many Americans work full time for piss-poor wages; with the economy in tatters, that’s even more true.  A lot of people work 40+ hours a week in the service industry, which means they get insurance, but they may only make $10 an hour.  For those people, the difference between having insurance coverage for abortion and not can often mean the difference between being able to have a savings account or not, or being able to make rent that month or not, or being able to eat okay for that month or not.

My point is to fill this out a little.  Abortion is about class warfare, and it’s about saying women don’t have a right to decent, safe medical care if they’re sexually active.  This is an assault on all women, but especially the most vulnerable—women living paycheck to paycheck, rape victims, women in abusive relationships (even with relatives), young women.  And with this rape angle, we have the proof in hand of how misogynist this really is, so please go forward and spread the word.  And write your congress critters.

From Pandagon:

*Amanda  Marcotte’s blog is Pandagon She is the author of:   It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments and  Get Opinionated: A Progressive’s Guide to Finding Your Voice (and Taking a Little Action)

Exclusive: Dem Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) calls GOP rape-redefining bill ‘a violent act against women’

Thank goodness there are still some principled Democrats out there unlike the dickwad DINO Daniel Lipinski of Illinois.

From Raw Story:

By Sahil Kapur
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

WASHINGTON – Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) on Monday tore into House Republicans for proposing legislation that would limit access to abortion coverage for some rape victims.

The Florida Democrat, a rising star in her party and vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, is a leading voice on women’s issues. And she didn’t mince her words in an interview with Raw Story, fiercely denouncing GOP colleagues over H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”

“It is absolutely outrageous,” Wasserman Schultz said in an exclusive interview late Monday afternoon. “I consider the proposal of this bill a violent act against women.”

The broad anti-abortion measure would restrict federally-assisted abortion coverage to cases of “forcible rape,” excluding in that definition instances where women are drugged and raped, where women say “no” but do not physically fight off the perpetrator, and various cases of date rape. It also excludes instances of statutory rape in which minors are impregnated by adults. The victim in all cases would be denied abortion coverage under Medicaid and forbidden from seeking health care tax benefits.

Introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the bill boasts 173 mainly Republican co-sponsors and has been designated a top priority by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

“It really is — to suggest that there is some kind of rape that would be okay to force a woman to carry the resulting pregnancy to term, and abandon the principle that has been long held, an exception that has been settled for 30 years, is to me a violent act against women in and of itself,” Wasserman Schultz said.

“Rape is when a woman is forced to have sex against her will, and that is whether she is conscious, unconscious, mentally stable, not mentally stable,” the four-term congresswoman added.

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Iowa House Votes For Marriage Ban

From The Advocate:

By Julie Bolcer

February 1, 2011

The full Iowa house voted Tuesday afternoon to approve a resolution that proposes a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality, which would effectively repeal the 2009 state supreme court decision that legalized marriage for same-sex couples.

Early Tuesday afternoon, following almost three hours of debate, the Republican-controlled chamber approved House Joint Resolution 6 by a vote of 62-37. The outcome was expected following action last week in the house judiciary committee, which passed the resolution by a vote of 13-8.

“The proposed amendment devalues families and divides Iowans,” said One Iowa Executive Director Carolyn Jenison in a news release. “The Constitution is meant to protect the freedoms and liberties of all Iowans. It is inappropriate to use the political process to single out and deny a group of Iowans of their constitutional protections. ”

Further efforts to repeal marriage equality appear stalled for now, however, as senate majority leader Michael Gronstal has vowed to block debate of the measure in his Democratic-controlled chamber. A resolution needs to pass two consecutive sessions of the legislature in order to make the ballot.

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Challenging Montana’s Inequality

From The Advocate:

February 1, 2011

By Editors

Six same-sex couples appeared in a Helena, Mont. district court last week to argue for state recognition of their relationships.

The couples, aided by the American Civil Liberties Union, are seeking domestic partnership recognition in their case, Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana. The suit was filed in July and is now coming to a head — the ACLU wants the judge in the case to rule without a trial, while the state’s attorney general is seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed.

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Colorado: Hemmed in by state anti-gay marriage law, Steadman to introduce civil unions bill

From The Colorado Independent:

By John Tomasic


Denver Democratic state Senator Pat Steadman is sponsoring a bill that would make same-sex civil unions legal in Colorado. The move is being cheered as long overdue by gay rights supporters, who have been stymied in efforts to win equality by a constitutional amendment that outlaws gay marriage in the state. In weighing whether or not to introduce the legislation this summer, Steadman told the Colorado Independent that “promoting a lesser status for gay people is not ideal” but that, in the short term, “people could really benefit from civil unions.”

Steadman’s bill, which will be sponsored by Denver Rep. Mark Ferrandino in the House, will confer on couples entering into a civil union all of the legal rights granted through marriage– rights that include, for example, inheriting property, sharing health insurance policies, making crucial end-of-life medical and financial decisions.

These aren’t just protections couples share with one another, they’re also family responsibilities, Brad Clark, head of gay rights group OneColorado, told the Colorado Independent. “There are literally hundreds or even thousands of instances of rights shared by couples littered throughout the state code.”

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Illinois civil unions signed into law

From The Chicago Tribune:

Same-sex couples will get many of the same rights as married counterparts

By Monique Garcia, Tribune reporter

January 31, 2011

For the first time in Illinois history, gay and lesbian couples will be afforded many of the same rights as their married counterparts under landmark legislation signed into law Monday.

Illinois is now the sixth state to recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. Another five states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed Illinois’ sweeping new legal protections Monday afternoon before a jubilant standing-room crowd at the Chicago Cultural Center.

“We believe in civil rights, and we believe in civil unions,” Quinn said. “We believe in liberty and justice for all.”

The law takes effect June 1 and allows gays and lesbians to use civil unions as a way to get many of the same rights given to heterosexual couples when they marry. It also applies to opposite-sex couples to signify a commitment short of marriage.

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Wyoming passes anti-gay marriage legislation

From 365 Gay:

By Annie Rooney,
01.28.2011 4:00pm EST

On Thursday, the Wyoming Senate voted 21-9 to pass a constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage in the state, Senate Joint Resolution 5, according to the Billings Gazette.

The law would be placed on the 2012 ballot if Gov. Matt Mead (R.) signs the bill, which he publicly supports.

The House passed a a similar bill on Monday, which banned civil unions and domestic partnerships, as well as gay marriage. The Senate bill would allow for the possibility of civil unions or domestic partnerships.

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