q. when is rape not rape? a. never. rape is rape is rape.

Q. What could be worse than being raped and then becoming pregnant?

A. Being forced to carry the pregnancy to term against your will.

In case you haven't seen this yet...

US lawmakers are seeking to redefine rape in an attempt to strengthen already horrendous anti-abortion laws. Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, except when the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. (Please note: 1976 Hyde, not 2010 Stupak.) This new bipartisan proposal would take away that last bit of protection.
House Republicans wasted no time in declaring their legislative priorities for the 112th Congress. The first: repeal health care for millions of Americans. The second: redefine rape. A day after repealing health care, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act, a bill that would not only permanently prohibit some federally funded health-care programs from covering abortions, but would change the language exempting rape and incest from rape to "forcible rape."

By narrowing the Hyde Amendment language, Republicans would exclude the following situations from coverage: women who say no but do not physically fight off the perpetrator, women who are drugged or verbally threatened and raped, and minors impregnated by adults. . . .

172 Republicans — including sixteen women — and lone Democrat Rep. Daniel Lipinski (IL), chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus — readily support the new standard.

[UPDATE: The Washington Post issued a correction to point out that Lipinski is not the sole Democrat supporting the bill. As of today, Democratic Reps. Dan Boren (OK), Jerry Costello (IL), Mark Critz (PA), Joe Donnelly (IN), Mike McIntyre (NC), Collin Peterson (MN), Nick Rahall (WV), Mike Ross (AR), and Heath Shuler (NC) are also sponsors.]

"Forcible rape" is a redundancy used in FBI crime statistics to denote that a weapon such as a gun or knife was used by the rapist, or that the victim was beaten in addition to having been raped. It is by far not the only form of rape or sexual assault legally recognized as a criminal act. Rapists can be and are charged for rape where no weapon is present and where no additional violence - other than the rape itself - is present.

The rape of a minor by an adult is always legally rape, regardless of weapon. The use of drugs to facilitate a rape constitutes legal rape. And so on.

We should also acknowledge how this law would punish women not only for being raped, not only for becoming pregnant as a result of that rape, but for being poor. Like most anti-choice and anti-woman laws, this law would disproportionately affect low-income women. Which are disproportionately and rapdily becoming most women in the US.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic Congressperson from Florida, strongly denounced the bill and its sponsors on The Raw Story:
"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. . . . 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.

. . . .

The pro-abortion-rights group NARAL lashed out at the measure's backers, calling it "unbelievably cruel and heartless toward survivors of rape and incest."

"We are seeing more and more anti-choice lawmakers who are willing to deny survivors of rape and incest access to abortion care," NARAL president Nancy Keenan told Raw Story. "If they can't block access altogether, they will work around the edges. Rep. Smith's 'Stupak on Steroids' bill is an example of this piecemeal strategy because it seeks to make the narrow exceptions for public funding of abortion care for rape and incest survivors even more restrictive."

Wasserman Schultz also said the bill contradicted the GOP's core political philosophy.

"Even though Republicans say they want government out of our lives, this is the most intrusive governmental act that we've probably seen to date in the personal lives of women," she said.

US readers, please contact your representatives to express your outrage at this bill. Go here: Stop the Attack on Women's Health and Safety: Oppose H.R. 3!.

If you want to help in a more direct way, you can donate to the National Network of Abortions Funds. N-NAF raises money so abortion clinics can serve women regardless of their ability to pay for procedures. A gift to N-NAF is a direct action you can take to help a low-income woman take control of her life.

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