Forced Birthers Try To Narrow Definition Of Rape
The House GOP is attempting to define rape only as forcible rape. I would say that there are innumerable problems with this, except that I know I could number them all if I had that kind of patience. I don’t, so I’ll number a few:
(1) this rolls back 40 years of legal reform. In the dark ages, rape excluded spouses and required, in many states, “utmost resistance.” State laws have moved on. Now, rape or sexual assault is defined, in varying degrees in different states, but usually includes intercourse with minors, sometimes includes penetration of a woman unconscious or very incapacitated, mostly includes penetration of a person who has clearly refused but who is unable or unwilling to resist, and is often gender-neutral (because it’s not okay to rape men, and it does happen). The House GOP wants to ignore the evolution of the law and impose the term “forcible rape,” even though the research shows that in the real world, serial rapists use the tactics that keep them from getting caught, which means using alcohol intoxication and isolation and avoiding overt force.
(2) it’s drafted by incompetents. They want the standard to be “forcible rape” but don’t define it. It’s not a defined term anywhere in federal law that I know of, and whether it is in state law varies widely. They’re inventing a standard that doesn’t have a meaning, and refusing to supply one. I suspect the refusal to supply a meaning is deliberate, as the more clear about how restrictive they mean to be, the more people will object. However, that’s the way failed lawyers who run for office and are convinced of their brilliance make a mess of the law.
(3) it’s a regressive change in service of a regressive change. The purpose of this is to keep as many women as possible from being able to access Medicaid funds for abortions. The whole antichoice movement is shot through with the ideology that women are either evil sluts or bubble-headed victims led astray, and this drives their wierd obsession with eliminating reasonable carve-outs and exceptions. The trilogy of rape, incest and life of the woman is a carve-out to the Hyde Amendment which bars federal funding for abortions. But in the mythology of antichoicers, all exceptions are used by evil sluts and weak victims to cover any possible situation, so anything becomes rape if it will justify the abortion. Their reaction is to reduce all exceptions to pinholes, denying them to many of the people they were precisely meant for and making them maddeningly arbitrary in their application — or eliminating them altogether, a goal they advocate but know they can’t achieve because it horrifies anyone not fully on board with the forced-birth movement.
I don’t see anyone proposing bills to make it tougher for the daughters of the privileged to access this routine medical procedure. Some on their side would like to but know that anything that threatens the privilege of the privileged gets much more effective opposition. Some on their side are more concerned that the burden of unwanted pregnancies fall on some groups of people than others. But whether by design or pragmatism, they’re not going to prevent affluent white women from accessing medical care to terminate unwanted pregnancies, and they’re not really going to try. They’re trying to make poor women with few resources who have unwanted pregnancies carry to term.
Anti-choice ideology, including especially those who oppose hormonal contraception using scientifically specious grounds, and rape apologism work hand in hand. They are both anti-autonomy movements. They’re against people’s control of their own bodies, and specifically against certain people’s control of their bodies (women, genderqueer and trans people, anyone who doesn’t conform to their worldview …). The forced birthers say they want fewer abortions, but they balk at all policies that are likely to produce that actual result through greater autonomy. The rape apologists say they’re against rape, but they’re for the culture that allows it and they’re for defining it only as one relatively less common type, and they’re against any policies that would make the sexual violation of people’s bodily integrity easier to prevent or punish. They’re movements made for each other.