Apparently “no” doesn’t mean “no” to Congressman Chris Smith of NJ and the other 173 Congressmen who support H.R 3 “No Tax Payer Funding for Abortion” Act. The claimed purpose of the bill is to ensure no federal money is spent on abortion. Under the Smith bill, individuals who purchase health insurance coverage that includes abortion will face tax penalties, as will small businesses that offer such comprehensive health insurance. The bill has manifested as an extreme piece of legislation that does not protect women and redefines rape for the purpose of reducing the number of abortions that can be performed on rape victims. This act would restrict rape victims from using their health insurance for an abortion if the rape is not considered “forcible” enough.
There is no legal definition behind the term “forcible rape,” it is an arbitrary term Congressman Smith uses in his bill to ban insurance coverage of abortion, even private insurance purchased with one’s own money. This bill would prevent abortions from occurring in situations of statutory rape, incest, coercion through drugs or alcohol, rape of those who are mentally unfit to give consent, date rape and any rape situation where the victim did not take her case to court to prove that the rape was forcible.
Apparently a lack of consent no longer implies rape but the measurement of physical force used by the rapist does. How is that force going to be measured? By the number of bones broken or will cuts and bruising be enough evidence of a struggle?
Taking rape charges to court is a grueling process and many women are actually advised against it. When pursuing pressing charges, rape victims are given legal counsel to not go through with the charges unless they are positive they will be able to emotionally handle being slandered by the defendant’s lawyer. It is the defending lawyer’s job to prove that the woman was promiscuous, didn’t say no loud enough. The jury only needs to have doubt or confusion about whether or not there was consent in order to side with the defendant. In a perfect world sexual consent would be black and white, the defendant’s job however is to emphasize the gray.
According to One In Four, a national organization that develops rape prevention programming and performs advocacy work on behalf of rape victims, one in four women will survive rape or attempted rape. Live Strong Foundation estimates that 80% of rapes occur between people who know each other. This kind of rape is different than the image that Representative Smith has conjured up of a masked bandit hiding in bushes with a weapon. This is the kind of rape that goes unreported because she knows him, she knows his family, she doesn’t know what happened because she was drugged or coerced or she said no, meant no and was forced anyway. All of the above is rape, but will not be recognized as rape under H.R 3. Neither will the statutory rape of a 13 year old by a thirty year old or the rape of a woman who has been drugged and is currently unconscious. Those rapes don’t require enough force for the 173 Congressmen cosponsoring this bill.
NJWAN understands that pro-life politicians are entitled to represent their pro-life constituents by supporting pro-life legislation. However, dragging unrelated issues, such as rape, into the argument is an act of violence against women. This bill has the potential to set rape legislation back decades to before marital rape was illegal an. The power of laws that currently condemn marital rape or consider rape to be a human rights violation would be reduced by the new “forcible” qualifier. H.R. 3 could establish the foundation for a dangerous legal precedent to exist in both rape and abortion legislation.
NJWAN will continue to speak out against H.R. 3 as we advocate for women’s rights to have ownership over their own bodies. Self-determination is a critical component of NJWAN’s mission as is advocacy for the women NJWAN represents. Legislation that restricts women's access to safe abortions promotes unsafe alternatives that endanger women. This bill strives to redefine rape as a means to an anti-abortion end. Dragging rape into the abortion argument is despicable. H.R. 3 not only redefines rape and restricts abortion rights but raises taxes on any individual or small business that purchases health coverage for an abortion with their own money. Please, contact your Congressmen and tell them not to support H.R. 3 because it does not support women: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml