Friday, January 28, 2011

Why You Can't Prove 'Forced Rape' Easily

I have a post over at TAPPED today in which I talk about Nick Baumann's reporting on the GOP's efforts to redefine rape as "forced rape" in the proposed "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion" bill.

I'll just add that rape has never really been a good "reason" for abortion anyway. The idea behind exceptions to banning abortion in various ways (or, in this case banning federal funds from going anywhere near abortion care) is somewhat bogus anyway, and really seeks to get folks who otherwise would oppose such bans to support them. It's really nice to think that women who are raped, victims of incest, or women whose health is in danger will still have access to abortion (or in this case, funding for abortion), but the reality is that most women wouldn't have access to abortion even if these circumstances did apply to them.

If you're petitioning to get funding for abortion because you fall under the list of exceptions, you have to prove in some way that you've been a victim of rape -- a high barrier already, since RAINN estimates that over 60 percent of all rapes are never reported to the police. Furthermore, simply reporting a rape doesn't necessarily mean that it would be weighed as strong enough evidence, and just 6 percent of all rapists ever serve time in jail.

Now, with the GOP seeking to redefine rape as "forced rape" -- a term that doesn't exist in any legal code whatsoever and is more on the level of Whoopi Goldberg's term "rape rape" -- and, should the bill ever pass (though hopefully the Senate and President Barack Obama have the good sense to block such an absurd piece of legislation) women would have to prove not only that a rape took place but that she was forcibly raped. How, exactly, is a woman supposed to prove that? And meanwhile, while a woman is busy trying to prove she was "forcibly raped," the pregnancy carries further along, making it more dangerous to end.

Either abortion is legal, or abortion isn't legal. The rest is moral judgments up to individuals to decide. Just because "exceptions" to an abortion funding ban exist doesn't mean they won't work out in the worst possible way for women in practice.

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