On Wednesday, May 4, 2011, the so-called “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”, H.R. 3, is scheduled to come to the floor of the House of Representatives for action.
If there were ever a bill that exemplified the Republican War on Women, and the hypocrisy in the cries of the far right exemplified by the Tea Partiers to ‘give us back our Constitution’, this is that bill.
This bill is nothing more than an attempt of the theocratic minded and socially conservative ultra-right wing in America to impose their religion and values on Americans who do not hold the same values. It puts the lie totally to any utterance from their mouths about their opposition to big government. It is a slap in the face of the most fundamental American values of self-determination and freedom from the heavy hand of government control in one’s personal life.
Because the courts have consistently upheld the constitutionality and legality of abortion as currently defined in federal law and court precedent, the far right is trying to bludgeon through a bill that is nothing but a back-door assault on the few remaining exceptions to abortions bans, exceptions that even many opponents of abortion in general have accepted as morally and medically necessary.
What makes it even worse, and is even more revealing of the minds of its backers, this bill is again trying to revive what was in an earlier draft, and that is what is essentially a redefinition of rape. Earlier Republicans had language in the bill that would redefine rape so that only women who were declared had been “forcibly” raped could qualify for funds for abortion.
They’re doing it again: After jettisoning controversial legislative language narrowing the definition of rape for the purposes of abortion law, House Republicans are attempting a backdoor maneuver to ensure that solely victims of “forcible rape” are eligible for federal funding if they seek abortions.
In February, Republicans drew widespread condemnation for their “forcible rape” proposal, which legal experts said would have excluded statutory rape victims and others from obtaining abortions through Medicaid. Amidst public outcry and a protest campaign by left-leaning groups, Republicans abandoned the language, which had been included in the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill the GOP leadership numbered H.R. 3 to signify its high priority to the party. But while they’ve amended their legislation, which faces a floor vote in the House on Wednesday, Republicans haven’t stopped trying to narrow the already small exception under which federal funding for abortions is permissible. They’ve used a sly legislative maneuver to make sure that even though the language of the bill is different, the effect remains the same.
The backdoor reintroduction of the statutory rape change relies on the use of a committee report, a document that congressional committees produce outlining what they intend a piece of legislation to do. If there’s ever a court fight about the interpretation of a law—and when it comes to a subject as contentious as abortion rights, there almost always is—judges will look to the committee report as evidence of congressional intent, and use it to decide what the law actually means.
In this case, the committee report for H.R. 3 says that the bill will “not allow the Federal Government to subsidize abortions in cases of statutory rape.” The bill itself doesn’t say anything like that, but if a court decides that legislators intended to exclude statutory rape-related abortions from eligibility for Medicaid funding, then that will be the effect.
This bill is not an exception, it is one of literally hundreds of pieces of legislation that have been introduced recently in Congress or in state legislatures nationwide, all targeted at reducing, limiting, or narrowing the rights of women as free citizens in this nation.
It is absolutely appalling.
One recent study reports that in the past four months, the Republicans have managed to introduce a total of 916 bills targeting women’s reproductive rights.
It’s almost an unbelievable figure — 916. That’s the amount of legislation that has been introduced so far this year, in an attempt to regulate a woman’s reproductive system, and we’re only in April.
This information comes from a report by The Guttmacher Institute, and it finds that 49 states have contributed to this number with various bills geared towards regulating abortions and a woman’s right to choose. The report says that in 15 states, the following measures became law:
- expand the pre-abortion waiting period requirement in South Dakota to make it more onerous than that in any other state, by extending the time from 24 hours to 72 hours and requiring women to obtain counseling from a crisis pregnancy center in the interim;
- expand the abortion counseling requirement in South Dakota to mandate that counseling be provided in-person by the physician who will perform the abortion and that counseling include information published after 1972 on all the risk factors related to abortion complications, even if the data are scientifically flawed;
- require the health departments in Utah and Virginia to develop new regulations governing abortion clinics;
- revise the Utah abortion refusal clause to allow any hospital employee to refuse to “participate in any way” in an abortion;
- limit abortion coverage in all private health plans in Utah, including plans that will be offered in the state’s health exchange; and
- revise the Mississippi sex education law to require all school districts to provide abstinence-only sex education while permitting discussion of contraception only with prior approval from the state.
This post has been faxed to Representative Todd Young, IN-09; Indiana Senators Dick Lugar and Daniel Coats; The White House; House Speaker John Boehner; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; and and posted on this web site, http://keepamericafree.com. The web site provides links to documents on the web supporting the statements in this letter.