Proposed bill’s intitial wording implies dangerous intentions

Sara Kloepfer
Managing Editor

Ever since President Barack Obama’s health care bill was introduced last year, Republicans have been trying to reform the legislation. In the latest incarnation, they attempted to redefine rape.

The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, brought to you by spokesman for the bill’s author Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and 173 co-sponsors, aims to make the Hyde Amendment, the current provisional abortion legislation in place, permanent.

The Hyde Amendment, which took effect in 1977 but must be renewed annually, prohibits federal money from being used to finance abortions, except in pregnancies resulting from rape, incest or situations in which the life of the mother is endangered. The amendment also bars Medicaid from paying for abortions and abortion coverage in health care plans for federal workers.

The new Act would bar people from using their health savings accounts or tax credits or deductions for medical expenses to pay for an abortion. A provision in the bill would prohibit the federal government from stripping financial support from hospitals that refuse to perform abortion-related services. The most troubling provisions however, are found in the initial wording of the bill — its limitations would not apply to an abortion “if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest.”

The words “forcible rape” were so inflammatory that the wording was removed soon after its introduction. There is no definition of forcible rape in the bill, so many were concerned, and rightly so, that this would discredit date rape, verbal threats, and the date-rape drug. Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” harpooned this aspect of the bill on an episode appearing after the language was changed.

“By proposing this legislation, Republicans are finally closing the glaring rape loophole in our health care system,” “The Daily Show’s” Kristen Schaal dead-panned. “You’d be surprised how many drugged, underaged or mentally handicapped young women have been gaming the system. Sorry ladies, the free abortion ride is over.”

Cutting off access to federal money will only reduce safe and legal abortions. The point of health care is to protect people, not force them into more dangerous options. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act will accomplish nothing but harm the people who are the most in need of government support.

The fact that this bill is even on the table in the first place is downright frightening. If a woman becomes pregnant through rape or incest — in all ways it is defined or understood — the government should not limit her choice by withholding the funding she could need to pay for abortion if she chooses that option. The main concern is that we would be regressing to a time when “no” was not enough. Men — especially those at the highest level of government — should be well aware of the fact that “no means no.”

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