Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Can We Stop Republican Insanity?

Amongst the crushing unemployment, the growing national debt, the worn out infrastructures, the sinking reputation of the US on the world arena, our newly elected Republicans have identified the most urgent issue to resolve: public funding for abortions for victims of rape and incest. Republicans are seeking to redefine rape in a way that will deny access to abortion to the mentally disabled, children, or those who were raped while drugged, coerced, or unconscious. 

This is not all, however. This is everything that the bill H.R.3 that Speaker John Boehner refers to as "the highest legislative priority" will achieve:
  • HR3 makes permanent the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for a legal medical procedure. As it stands, Hyde must be renewed each year.
  • HR3 strong arms private insurance companies into removing coverage for abortions by instituting an anti-choice litmus test to discriminate against companies and programs that cover them.
  • HR3 will make it harder for rape victims to seek justice, by creating a hierarchy of rape that is based on the worst elements of rape culture. HR3 is based on the idea that “good” people are only raped by strangers and “good” people are the only ones deserving of  medical care.
  • HR3 disempowers survivors economically, financially, legally, and socially. Under Hr3 a person who is drugged, raped, and forcibly impregnated could be left to withstand the ordeal of a rape trial while pregnant, going into the courtroom each day and facing their attacker, without the money or the resources to stop it.
  • Rapists already thrive on power. Rapists already want to control their victims, want them to get and stay pregnant as a constant reminder of the attack or out of a need for control. It is unconscionable that elected politicians are empowering rapists and using the lives of survivors to prove their anti-choice credentials.
  • The opening of the bill mentions that it provides “conscience protections” against tax dollars being spent on abortion. If your conscience tells you that abortion should be free, safe, and legal, it apparently isn’t worthy of protection. Every single person who co-sponsored this bill has sided with people who want to control other people’s bodies and call it morality.

But that's not all. This bill reinforces a philosophy of rape acceptance:
It’s not just about abortion; it is passing rape apologism and rape culture into law. We’re all familiar with the attitude that rape only “really” counts if someone jumps out of the bushes with a weapon and physically tortures, beats, or maims you in addition to raping you; that’s a big part of what this clause is about. This sets a terrifying precedent that takes us back to the days when the law wouldn’t define your rape as a rape unless you’d demonstrated “utmost resistance,” meaning that you’d risked your life to get into a physical fight with someone who already wanted to rape you, and wouldn’t have a problem with hurting you really, really severely to get that done. We cannot let this stand. It’s not something on which there can be any compromise, ever, at any time.

People, this is an atrocity. We can't let such a cannibalistic piece of legislation pass and still consider ourselves a civilized country. 

What can we do to fight this?
  • Join the #DearJohn Twitter campaign to draw attention to the issue right to Speaker of the House John B. The more tweets, the harder to ignore. Write to @johnboehner and add #DearJohn as the tag. (To my International Readers: If you want to stand with us, please add your voice to the Twitter campaign.) More info on this here: How to join the DearJohn campaign.
  • Contact your Representatives.
    Clicking on the following image will take you to a state directory to find your representative:

    A personal email or call may be more effective than a chain petition. That being said, don't hesitate to sign the following ...

  • MoveOn.org Petition against the bill that will "redefine rape and set women's rights back by decades." 

Thank you, Natalie, at Flaneur in the City, for organizing and publicizing this information so well!

Find further information and discover how you can take action against this atrocity here and here


Anonymous said...

Thanks for bringing attention to this.

Patrick said...

I think I'm about to make significant enemies here, so I'll start where I agree.

Most pressing issue facing America? Hardly. The republicans need to get their head out of their collective a**es and focus on real problems.

My question for you is why should abortion be free? Why should tax dollars pay for abortions?

Kidney transplants are legal and safe, but not free.

Heart surgery is legal and safe, but not free.

MRI's are safe and legal, but not free.

Hip replacement is legal and safe, but not free.

Why special treatment for abortion?

Clarissa said...

Because a 14-year-old raped by her freak of a father shouldn't be forced to go through the horror of such a pregnancy just because she has no money of her own. Because we aren't talking about people who are sick. We are talking about victims of a horrible crime.

And, of course, I also believe that a society that only offers good medical care to the rich is a barbaric society not worthy of any respect.

Thankfully, Canada is not such a place. The US, however, is always behind. Oh well. It's behind the entire developed world in pretty much everything.

Patrick said...

Leave rape out of the equation - which the proposed law does - why should tax dollars pay for an abortion.

And please stop spreading the myth that health care in Canada is 'free'. We pay for it in taxes and opportunity cost.

And not all services are free. If I were to elect to have my vasectomy reversed, that would be an out of pocket expense, not covered by the Canada Health Act. Most elective procedures are out-of-pocket expenses.

So, lets not talk about the less than 10% of abortions, and talk about the vast majority. Why should an elective procedure be 'free'?

Clarissa said...

"Leave rape out of the equation - which the proposed law does - why should tax dollars pay for an abortion."

-I have a feeling that you haven't read the post. The post is about a bill that is being introduced that will severely curtail access to free abortions precisely for victims of rape and incest by revising the definition of rape. This post is not about abortion in general. It is specifically about abortion in cases of rape and incest. And what does it matter if such abortions are less that 10%? Even if there are just 3 of them in an entire year, citizens who are victims of these horrible crimes should be protected from the consequences irrespective of whether they are rich. A society that begrudges money for that is a society of animals that disgust me.

Rimi said...

You're not making any enemies, Patrcik, but I think you may have misunderstood the concept of federally funding abortions resulting from rape (or any other 'emergency' abortion situations). Abortions are not free. They are subsidised via Medicaid (that thing that supports senior citizens that no one complains about because we will all be old one day?). The state does not hand over cash to cover costs so the procedure can be free for the women who want them. The money is invested through emergency care programmes to minimise damage to the entire society, which is already teeming with more new babies than can be provided for.

First, pregnancies resulting from rape are not medical illnesses that might have been contracted genetically, by accidents, or by careless/indulgent living. They belong to the category of emergency aid in many countries, because they're the delayed result of a federal crime. And emergency aid is often offered at subsidised rates by government-run or government aided clinics. Because, and this truth seems to surprise a lot of people, a government is elected by a people and paid tax to so they can avail vital and necessary facilities like emergency medical care.

Second, rape-related pregnancies are a physical manifestion of a federal crime (like a bullet in your side is the manifestation of a mugging or street violence, also crimes). The state police -- that is again funded by your tax dollars -- could not provide you with the protection you pay for. Therefore, the state owes you some reparations. This works on the same principle as receiving compensation for being inadvertantly exposed to toxic substances or radiation. A mechanism you pay to keep you safe failed, and the state is trying to make it up to you.

Except that radiation victims get a decent amount of hard cash. Rape victims -- often early and middle teenagers -- struggle to not have the baby of their rapists.

Finally, and most importantly, stopping federal funding for abortion means:
1. Tax-exempt HMOs (which is almost ALL of them) cannot cover rape-related abotions even when the woman has paid up in full to them.
2. The women will have to provoke her rapist into injuring her severally to prove 'forcible rape' before she can get any kind emergency medical or psychological help.
3. Consequently, several violent criminls will walk free.
3. If the victims are minors, their parents cannot put this bill on their health plans (see 1). Since increased cost of hospitalised births have shown concurrent rise in home-births, what's the chance raped teens won't give birth at home and chuck their newborns in the garbage dump? Abandoned babies happen alarmingly often.

And the most basic legal argument is this: a man who may never have needed the fire services still pays for the upkeep of the fire brigade. The most peace-loving amongst us pay for the police force. Missiles to Mars are partly funded by people who barely know what it is. And of course our money funds wars which enlists us to go die in foreign lands. We pay taxes for things we may never personally need, that is the nature of the social contract.

But the male tax payer has a bigger incentive for funding emergency abortions of all kinds. It just might save him eighteen years in child support some day. When you compare the relative costs, it's a steal.

Patrick said...

I read both your post and the text of the bill - which I doubt you have - and the bill still provides funded abortions for (forcible) rape and incest.

I'll agree with you that the inclusion of the word "forcible" is concerning, because there isn't a definition of what constitutes forcible. The adjective isn't necessary. Other than that concession, I do not agree with the hyperbole that you are extolling.

Clarissa said...

This is not about adjectives. This is about the fact that "Republicans are seeking to redefine rape in a way that will deny access to abortion to the mentally disabled, children, or those who were raped while drugged, coerced, or unconscious."

I am shocked that people can exhibit such a cavalier attitude towards the horrors of rape. Adjectives, indeed. What is it, blindness to wards the suffering of others? A desire to believe that this will never happen to them and the attendant attempts to distance themselves from the victims?

Clarissa said...

Thank you, Rimi, for explaining this so logically and intelligently. I don't think, though, that you will persuade a person who manages to compare his vasectomy with being a victim of rape.

Would that he never discover the difference first-hand.

el said...

Clarissa, I suspect that until one proves one was raped, the child would already celebrate his/her 2nd birthday. Or, at least, be after first 3 months of pregnancy and what good would proving rape be then? Too late for abortion anyway. The law for rape victims may be in the books, but I doubt it's helpful in practice.

Imo, even without rape, tax $$ should pay for abortions. Except helping rape victims, it's a difference between paying X for abortion OR paying 1000*X (at least) until the child is 18 because birth control fails and if the mother is too poor to pay 300$-600$ (?), she is 100% too poor to independently raise a child. Or US could become third world country for its poor and jail all hungry, dropped out of school kids for stealing a loaf of bread. I know which country I would prefer to live in. Rich people pay more taxes, but except top 0.5% they have more to lose too, if the country goes to the dogs, as it would in such a case. Look at some Arab countries, people, with a few rich and horribly poor masses, is it your dream? I remember when we were ashamed to let neighbors see we buy meat after financial crisis in the 90-es in Ukraine. They bought flour to bake bread at home since it was cheaper than buying bread from a shop. We weren't poor, but it's a horrible way to live (unless you're rich enough to live in a mansion away from the rest 99.5% ). I feel much better in Israel and ready to pay more taxes for that too.

Clarissa said...

Great comment, el! I have no idea why anybody would think it makes sense for indigent people to have tons of unwanted children.

In the US, the generation of people that grew up after abortion was legalized was the first generation that experienced a dramatic drop in crime. Which is really not surprising at all given that the unwanted children of indigent parents don't have many options other than crime when they grow up.

Rimi said...

I love that your commenters are so international, Clarissa. Having seen first-hand the sheer free space in the United States (I lived in Massachusetts) -- by virtue of which a middle-class home is usually a mortgaged two-family with a four-car driveway -- I think even liberal Americans don't quite *get* what it means to live in over-populated, crowded countries where people literally kill each other for a piece of bread. I don't they realise how having one less child dramatically raises the quality of life of a family. All the talk of having more children so there is more free labour per family? That only works when the family owns a big, profitable ranch or farm.

The conservative American principle seems to this: punish women for having sex by making abortions harder and harder to get, before banning them altogether. Then limit ceasarean births so every woman has to undergo excruciating pain -- still with the punishment theme here -- then spend a great deal more than the abortion procedure on child welfare and foster care and then go ahead and try to cut both those budgets every session of Congress.

Perhaps the conservatives should try the simpler approach they employ abroad: raze the poor down till they cease to exist.

(Can you tell how frustrated this debate makes me?)

Clarissa said...

"Can you tell how frustrated this debate makes me?"

-Oh, I'm right there with you, my friend. Conservatives are driven in almost everything they do by a profound hatred of women. They seem to share this belief of Medieval Christians that women are inherently evil and that they pervert inherently good men by reminding them of bad, horrible sex.

As for the poor, conservatives want the poor to proliferate both in the US and abroad because they need soldiers to fight their endless wars here and workers for their sweatshops abroad. And if you can get both these things and punish women for existing in the process - that's just sweet.

Patrick said...

The culture of victim hood prevails.

We'll just ignore facts and buy into propaganda. That seems like an intelligent thing to do.

Frankly - I've never met these conservatives you describe. Perhaps they only exist in your head.

Clarissa said...

I've never met Tunisians. Maybe they don't exist. I also have never been to Mars. Maybe it doesn't exist either. That's a very profound argument to make. And it seems to be a tendency with you, Patrick. You dislike books you've never read and refuse to acknowledge that things don't have to be seen by you to be real.

Interesting kind of escapism. Freud, in whom you don't believe either, would have a lot to say about this. But it's OK, since he didn't exist anyways.

Patrick said...


Pen said...

Patrick, you stated that the bill still provides aid for those women who were forcibly raped, as well as minors who were victims of incest.

Before you say anything--I've read the bill. I've read the post. I've read arguments for and against. And I've looked up my own information on the subject.

Over seventy percent of rape cases concern people who were not "forcibly raped." As such, the bill discounts minors (in cases of non-incestual rape), victims of date rape (who may be drugged, inebriated, or unconscious--and therefore aren't considered by be "forcibly" raped), people with mental illnesses (who may either not know what is happening or have been coerced), and other victims of coercion.

Teenagers are also victims of date rape--they're minors, and it's not incest. But because the rape wasn't "forcible," they wouldn't have access to the help they needed--be it psychological or physical.

Victims of incest also need not be minors, and yet only minors will be covered under the law.

By limiting the definition of rape in relation to medical care, this bill ignores the fact that most rape cases will not receive the care they need.

Rape is rape. Non-forcible rape is just as physically and psychologically damaging as forcible rape, and deserves the same treatment.

Patrick said...

Like I said in my first post - I'm probably going to make some enemies here.

If you've been drugged - then it's forcible. That seems pretty self evident.

If you're suffering from mental illness and can't give consent - then it's forcible. Again, that seems pretty self evident.

If your an adult victim of incest, then it's rape. If it's 'consensual', then really, what's the likelihood that they'll seek abortion services?

Rape is forcible by it's very definition. I see this protest simply as a smokescreen to try and get abortions for all at any time on the government dime.

And I haven't heard anything to convince me otherwise.

Pen said...

By limiting "rape" to "forcible rape," a definition must be applied by the proposal--something that is not actually in the bill. This opens the possibility of a Congressional definition.

No, not all rape is considered legally forcible. Yes, it is an act of violence, but each state has its own definition of what is considered "forcible" (which generally results in more physical injury) and "non-forcible" (in which many states categorize date rape--especially drug-related, statutory rape, and coercion). Most states don't count statutory rape, to which many children and teenagers are victims; and there are quite a few that don't count date rape or coercion.

And it has been officially stated by a GOP aide that the bill was intended to prevent aid to "consensual sexual relationships between two minors"--which is generally classified as statutory rape and could easily be classified as date rape. Drugs don't mean consensus; neither does apparent willingness.

Rimi said...

I see this protest simply as a smokescreen to try and get abortions for all at any time on the government dime.

Because getting pregnant and then getting it ripped out of their wombs is SUCH a cool thing to do. Maybe I'll do it for my birtday this year. But let's not even talk about rape. Let's talk about government dime.

Patsy love, Medicaid sponsores several times more government dime for Viarga so men that Nature doesn't intend to have sex or procreate can get their dicks up and put it somewhere. As someone presumably possessed of a dick that will at some point stop working without aid, I'd say it's in your self-interest to stop getting weepy in a corner about the government dime being spent on women who're being forced to lease their bodies rent-free for a foetus they don't want. If their source dries up, yours might too.

Or, of course, you could make a personal commitment to sport a limp dick after a certain age and not charge the government for the pleasure of a quick screw. 'Cause seriously, I think your comments are all about getting a fuck on the government dime, and I disapprove of it.

See how I didn't have to back up my conclusion with any actual proof? I'm a genius that way.

Patrick said...

I'll grant that one of the shortcomings of the American Justice system is that you have 50 different criminal codes. That is one of the great things about Canada - if it's criminal in Nova Scotia, it's just as criminal in British Columbia.

I don't want to narrow the definition of rape to make it impossible for women to prosecute criminals, but neither do I want to expand the definition to make it meaningless. Two sixteen year old kids making out in the backseat of a Chevy may not be the smartest thing either has ever done, but it hardly constitutes rape. Two drunk people having sex is not rape. The college grad student who has to blow her professor to get a good grade - that's rape. But it needs to be reported. We have to exercise reasonable judgment.

So, circling back to the original post - Clarissa is right - this should not be a priority piece of legislation. And questioning the inclusion of 'forcible' in the bill is reasonable. If we remove that word, and limit federally paid abortions to rape & incest victims, does that make the bill palatable to the left? Would the right still want to proceed? If the answer is no from either side, then there is more to the agenda then they're saying.

Patrick said...

As a conservative, I'm all for limiting government handouts for a multitude of things. Government intervention should be limited to where there is a public need. And there is no public need for obese smoking men to get an erection. (Obesity and smoking being leading causes of impotence) It's atrocious that Viagra was even ever up for consideration for medicare funding. That should have been a the easiest rejection in the history of Medicare.

As for your personal insults - I'll just ignore them and assume your in a foul mood due to the unrelenting snow storm. Your comments otherwise are generally well thought out and civil.

Rimi said...

Darling, there is not a single personal insult in that comment, merely descriptive words in the colloquial. I was merely testing your intellectual and analytical abilities. And you fell for the knee-jerk litmus.

You saw a few words that are usually used in fights or insults, and immediately jumped to a conclusion that even a cursory intelligent reading would have provded invalid.

In short, you appear to belong to that lamentable majority that has forgotten to how think. I can only hope this is a temporary lapse, and wish you a speedy recovery.

Pen said...

I'm not advocating an expansion of the definition of rape. But the lines aren't always clear--and statutory rape is still a punishable offense (easily a Class A felony). Right now, the definition is not strict, but it is valid.

An example:

You state that two sixteen year olds undergoing consensual sex is not rape. That is true. But how can you tell that it's consensual in court? By law, the older of the two can be charged with statutory rape, and if one of the partners did not verbally agree, then that makes it rape. According to federal law, if a person is not a legal adult, then they cannot make a consensual choice--that's how teenage boys get charged by the parents for what appeared to be a consensual act.

But there are always cases of statutory rape which are not consensual. If a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol (or, God forbid, drugs and alcohol), and they do not verbally consent, that may be considered rape. Even if the other person is drunk as well.

Like I said, it's a fine line, one that requires careful and reasonable thought and judgment. But even in the cases that are clearly defined as rape, there are reasons why a victim would not report. Psychological trauma being one of them.

Rimi, I am also frustrated. I feel that I've been trying to explain the same things over and over.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, it is not we who get to decide what is "forcible" or not, it's the courts. Putting in a qualifier DOES mean the definition of rape (qualifying for emergency aid) gets narrowed. That *is* the intention of the proposed bill, and that is why it should be opposed.

The idea that people use abortion instead of birth control, and that the availability of abortion makes people have more sex (horrors!) and more unprotected sex, is a red herring. I mean, there are people who commit fraud by crashing cars on purpose to claim the insurance but ... would you really go out and get pregnant just so you can then have the pleasure of a surgical procedure? Come on.

Actually, the only person who has ever proposed using abortion as birth control to me was a conservative who needed Viagra. He thought not using birth control would help, and would save him face on the Viagra issue. So he said look, can't we just not use birth control? After all, you're not Catholic, so if you get pregnant, you can just have an abortion, right?

WTF?! For people who don't get it:
1. Why should one have sex with someone that insouciant about one's own wishes?
2. Why, if I do not want children and do not want them with this man, should I put myself through getting pregnant, then thinking about what to do, then making arrangements, then following through, then recovering, when I could just use birth control?
Truly, truly: availability of abortion does not cause pregnancy.

Patrick said...

John Stewart did a brilliant piece on this legislation last night (Feb 2) on his Daily Show. Definitely worth a view.

Natalie said...

Hello, Clarissa!

New info on this subject today, which I'm sure you heard -- the language of forcible rape has been removed, but the bill still sucks. More info over on my blog, http://flaneur-in-the-city.blogspot.com. Thought you'd like to know!