New Congress: From Redefining Rape to a Lethal Conscience Clause
House Republicans (and some Democrats) have initiated an all-out war on women since taking office. People who ran for this office on the platform that they were fed up with the downward spiral of the economy and who sold false stories of compassion for the jobless to the American people used these issues as a ploy to gain access into the House. From where I’m standing, these politicians do not care about the economy or the lack of jobs in this country; instead, their “top priority” has been to police the bodies of women.
Earlier this month, news spread and subsequent outrage arose from the introduction of H.R. 3, deceivingly-titled the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”, sponsored by Chris Smith, the vehemently anti-choice Representative of New Jersey and co-sponsored by 68.5% of the new Congress. The hottest topic of debate concerning this bill was how it proposed to redefine rape, claiming that the only rape victims who would be given federal funding for abortion would be victims who could prove their rape was “forcible.” Days later, the “forcible rape” amendment was taken out of H.R. 3 and with that decision, many thought we had something to celebrate; that the voices of those who had dedicated their time and efforts to raise awareness of this bill by blogging, tweeting as part of the #DearJohn Twitter protest, writing letters and calling their Representatives had made a significant difference. Maybe they had. Maybe we had. Then again, maybe removing the most radical language from this bill, which just so happened to be one of the only parts of this bill that people had been paying attention to, was just politics as usual.
Without the forcible rape amendment, this legislation is still just as devastating and misogynist. If passed, it could restrict incest victims over the age of 18 from receiving federal funds when in need of an abortion and remove the exception for women’s health, allowing federal funds to cover the costs of an abortion if, and only if, a physician certifies that continuing that pregnancy would kill that woman. If a pregnant woman would become terribly ill if she were to continue that pregnancy, well, that doesn’t mean she would die and therefore an abortion would not be covered. This legislation would also require that the government continue funding agencies and programs that, in addition to not performing abortions, do not refer women to other health care facilities, agencies and programs that do; because of the GOP’s constant attack on all of women’s reproductive health choices, this bill could very likely also affect access and funding for emergency contraception and birth control. This bill would also cut tax benefits to organizations and individuals who select an insurance policy that covers abortion.
Transcript for this video is after the jump.
As of February 8th, committee hearings have been held in regards to H.R. 3 in the House Judiciary. It will surely move through the house and come up for vote in the House and Senate.
But GOP leaders are not stopping with H.R. 3; the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act does not shamelessly and deliberately trample on the basic, fundamental rights of women enough.
Enter H.R. 358, another ill-titled bill that deserves a freakin’ award when it comes to deceptive, anti-choice politics; and I’m just talking about the title of this bill. H.R. 358 is entitled the “Protect Life Act” and is sponsored by Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) and is co-sponsored by 121 other members of the House, including a few Democrats. Wait for the facepalm-inducing action.
The Protect Life Act aims to encourage and allow physicians and entire hospitals to refuse to perform an abortion even if a woman would die without one. If a woman is having a risky pregnancy and is in imminent danger of losing her life, her doctor or the hospital in which she seeks immediate emergency care from could lawfully put the future-life of her fetus above her own life.
This is not just a war on women’s rights. This is a war on women’s lives. And Joseph Pitts had the audacity to title this lawful killing of women bill the Protect Life Act. It is very clear that the lives of women are not the lives in which the new Congress aims to protect. To them, the lives of women are disposable and the future-lives of the fetuses in which these politicians, physicians and anti-choice populace who are in agreement with these misogynist bills will become disposable once they are born; especially if they are born female.
I have always had a problem with conscience clauses, which is essentially what this legislation is. Conscience clauses give employees the freedom to not fulfill the duties that are required of them, that they were hired to do, and hide it under morality. If a person has a moral objection to a particular job, then why would that person study, train and become employed in that field? It is really a common sense approach I have here: If you cannot do your job, you should not be allowed to continue working in that field. For instance, if you are a pharmacist and you refuse to sell emergency contraception to a person who needs that medication, then you should be fired. There should not be more to it than that.
This bill is very literally giving elected officials free reign to allow physicians to kill people. So, what do we say to these elected officials? To quote Sady Doyle, “We should tell Congress that we hear they are planning to kill us, and are pretty upset about it, because we want to live.”
For a transcript of the video above,
Congrats, John Boehner and Chris Smith. You took out of the word “forcible” in the phrase “forcible rape” in H.R. 3, misnamed the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act”, and you think this somehow means that it’s not as misogynist as it was before. Okay, so you’re not saying that a rape victim has to be beaten within an inch of her life to count as a rape victim, but the change is mostly symbolic. This bill is still an attack on women’s basic rights and humanity. Plus, it’s an attack on private enterprise, since it raises taxes only on businesses that cover abortion in their health care plans and it prevents women from using private funds in health savings accounts to pay for abortion.
Let’s talk about rape exceptions. You claim your bill would allow rape victims to access insurance funds to pay for abortion. In theory, it does. In practice, however, we know the majority of rape victims under Medicaid who need abortions don’t get funding. Filling out the paperwork, have bureaucrats question if you were really raped, trying to get someone to believe you–it ends up failing most rape victims. You think taking the word “forcible” out will distract us from how sexist this bill is, but all that word did was highlight how the rest of the bill demonstrates cruel, demeaning beliefs about women. Let’s take ranking women who have abortions, for instance. Building exceptions is basically saying that some women are “good girls” who deserve their full human rights, but women who have sex without wanting to get pregnant somehow forsake their basic human rights. When are we going to have a bill that deprives men who have sex for pleasure of their basic right to make private medical decisions for themselves?
And let’s not forget how much the topic of women just doing what they want with their own vaginas appears to obsess conservative men. The economy is in the tank, we have two wars going on and making sure women don’t get abortions funded by their own private insurance has taken up way more of the House Republican’s energy than any of these issues. Not only are you sexist, but being sexist is, to quote John Boehner, a top priority.