The Republican War Not Just on Women, but Freedom and the Constitution and Bill of Rights

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.

The GOP’s Stealth Plan to Redefine Rape

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.

In Four Months, Republicans Introduced 916 Bills Against Women’s Right To Choose

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, The web site provides links to documents on the web supporting the statements in this letter.


Author: Ron