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Author Topic: G.O.P. Bill Redefines Rape
Raymond Arnold
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http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/republican-plan-redefine-rape-abortion

quote:
For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith's spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)

This is awful. The bill in general is bad if you're pro-choice, but you shouldn't have to be to oppose it. There's a twitter campaign to spread word and rally support and flood the inbox of the bill's sponsors with (respectful) denouncements, as well as
phoning in to your representatives, at tigerbeatdown.com.

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scholarette
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I have heard of this in other places and was horrified. Telling a woman that if she is drugged and unconscious and the guy impregnates her she should have to carry the baby because hey, at least she wasn't beaten too is ridiculous. Well, to be fair, it is just that the government won't allow any federal funds to go towards the abortion, but the definition of federal funds is pretty wide.
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Raymond Arnold
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One of the articles I read (can't find it, wish I could) talk about the class aspect of this. For poor people, this isn't just a matter of "you can have the abortion, but you have to pay for it out of pocket," it's a matter of they really can't afford the abortion. There were some heartbreaking stories that illustrated that point.
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PSI Teleport
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Yeah, this is bad news. There's a reason statutory rape is categorized as rape in the first place, and that dynamic doesn't disappear when a baby comes into the picture.
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BlackBlade
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I don't think the votes exist to pass this. I can't imagine it wouldn't be vetoed by Pres. Obama.
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PSI Teleport
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But doesn't it make you wonder who the GOP thinks they're appeasing just by bringing this up?
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MattP
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All the single-issue pro-life voters. I know at least a few.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by PSI Teleport:
But doesn't it make you wonder who the GOP thinks they're appeasing just by bringing this up?

Voters who feel like congress and the government are ducking the unresolved (in their minds) abortion debate. But they can crow about how they tried but the Democrats, and RINOs blocked them.

Or what Matt said.

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PSI Teleport
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But why would a single-issue voter even be seduced by this? Merely refusing to pay for some abortions is still ducking the debate. (Maybe I'm being too much of a wide-eyed idealist.)
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Juxtapose
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The House Republicans are going to use their new majority ENTIRELY for grandstanding? Shocking!

You can't see me now, but I'm making the Home Alone face.

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PSI Teleport
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I wish we could see it now. It sounds hilarious.
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Juxtapose
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I would, but I only have my phone's camera, so I'd have to do it one-handed. You wouldn't get the full glory.

Sorry.

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Rakeesh
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It's the kind of thing that slaps easily onto campaign ads, though. In nice screaming-style font sizes or other forms of communication, specifically geared towards cowboy-ing up your base by reminding them how awful your opposition (who really was upset by this kind of thing) is.
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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by PSI Teleport:
But why would a single-issue voter even be seduced by this? Merely refusing to pay for some abortions is still ducking the debate. (Maybe I'm being too much of a wide-eyed idealist.)

Because single-issue voters generally use a superficial standard to begin with.
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PSI Teleport
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Blah.
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Raymond Arnold
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What's really awful for me is not even that they'd take away funding for rape cases, but that they'd divide up the rape cases into "bad rape" and "okay rape." It's at least morally consistent to say "sorry, rape is bad, but murder is worse, and abortion is murder." Proclaiming that abortion IS still permissible but only when the woman puts herself further at risk by resisting someone who is (probably) stronger than her and willing to hurt her... that sends an awful message that's damaging whether or not the bill even passes.
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Geraine
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Sigh...I have no idea what the Republicans are thinking. Of all the issues with the country right now, Boehner decides that this abortion bill is the most important thing?

I could understand the Health Care Repeal because most of their base was calling for them to vote on it. This abortion bill just seems like a waste of time.

That being said, I don't think the bill is redefining rape at all. They are making a distinction between forcible and non-forcible rape. I am actually ok with medicare covering abortions for rape victims. I am however against my taxes paying for an abortion for someone that couldn't control themselves. Whether you are poor or not, you still have the choice to be responsible.

edit: I really hope the Republicans start actually doing something worthwhile soon or I'm going to be a very angry person [Mad]

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MattP
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quote:
Sigh...I have no idea what the Republicans are thinking.
My guess - it's another in what will be a long list of cynical gestures to mollify various segments of their base. They did the symbolic health care bill repeal. This is the symbolic abortion bill. We're already seeing rumblings of symbolic deficit reduction.
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Strider
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Geraine, if a 12 year old girl "willingly" has sex with a 30 year old man, how free was that choice? Should our tax dollars go to help that girl that "couldn't control herself"?
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
Sigh...I have no idea what the Republicans are thinking. Of all the issues with the country right now, Boehner decides that this abortion bill is the most important thing?

I could understand the Health Care Repeal because most of their base was calling for them to vote on it. This abortion bill just seems like a waste of time.

That being said, I don't think the bill is redefining rape at all. They are making a distinction between forcible and non-forcible rape. I am actually ok with medicare covering abortions for rape victims. I am however against my taxes paying for an abortion for someone that couldn't control themselves. Whether you are poor or not, you still have the choice to be responsible.

edit: I really hope the Republicans start actually doing something worthwhile soon or I'm going to be a very angry person [Mad]

The issue people have a problem with is what constitutes "forced" rape when you take coercion into account. Is a 12 or 14 year old capable of making the same sort of informed decision that a 30 year old is when it comes to sex? What if someone's drink was roofied? What if someone used the threat of force but no actual violence occurred?

Coercion is a form of force.

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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by Strider:
Geraine, if a 12 year old girl "willingly" has sex with a 30 year old man, how free was that choice? Should our tax dollars go to help that girl that "couldn't control herself"?

I thought it was clear in my post, but maybe I didn't phrase it correctly.

Rape is rape is rape. Statutory, forcible, non-forcible; It doesn't matter. It should be covered.

I'm fine with my tax dollars covering abortion for rape victims, no matter what kind of rape it is.

I'm not ok with someone that willingly had sex and then said "Oops I didn't use protection. Oh well!" to get an abortion at tax payer expense.

ETA: I just read my first post, and it did seem vague and unclear. Sorry about that. I hope this clears it up.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Rape is rape is rape. Statutory, forcible, non-forcible; It doesn't matter. It should be covered.

I'm fine with my tax dollars covering abortion for rape victims, no matter what kind of rape it is.

If that's what you meant to imply, you need to seriously reconsider your wording. Both on this forum and anywhere else you might be talking about this. Because:

quote:
That being said, I don't think the bill is redefining rape at all. They are making a distinction between forcible and non-forcible rape. I am actually ok with medicare covering abortions for rape victims. I am however against my taxes paying for an abortion for someone that couldn't control themselves
it sounds an awful lot like you are pretty explicitly saying that non-forcible rape is "just failing to control yourself." And that is an extremely dangerous attitude to accidentally encourage.
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MattP
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quote:
I'm not ok with someone that willingly had sex and then said "Oops I didn't use protection. Oh well!" to get an abortion at tax payer expense.
If you're going to make it a condition of service, how does a woman demonstrate one situation vs the other?
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adenam
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quote:
They are making a distinction between forcible and non-forcible rape.
Why is this distinction necessary or important? Just because a woman wasn't beat up by her rapist should not disqualify her from using Medicaid to pay for an abortion. She was still forced to have sex against her will and should not be required to have a child if she does not want it.
This bill seems to stem from the prevalent idea in America that rape only counts as "real" rape if the woman struggles and is physically assaulted by her attacker.

ETA: Sorry Geraine, I forgot to refresh before posting. You've definitely clarified your position and it is one I agree with.

[ February 01, 2011, 10:05 PM: Message edited by: adenam ]

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Geraine
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Ok, I guess after clarifying it I still need to explain further. I'll make it really simple.

Pregnancy by rape in any form, forcible or non-forcible, should be covered.

Pregnancy due to willingly having sex with a partner (NOT rape) should not be covered.

Is that simple enough? I realize that by lumping the two statements in the same paragraph it may seem like I was referring to non-forcible rape as being a willful action, that was not my intent.

Adenam, I think rape is rape. Whether they want to call it forcible or non-forcible is, to me, irrelevant.

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Raymond Arnold
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I think your subsequent posts are clear enough. But the original one is problematic even if you separated the thoughts into two separate paragraphs. The implication is there simply due to the statement "I don't think the bill is redefining rape."

The bill divides rape into two categories. Then it says that one warrants abortions and one doesn't. This a clear change from current policy on what rape means. Even the simple act of dividing rape into the "forcible and non-forcible" categories WITHOUT attaching restrictions to one of them ties into the narrative that it matters whether force was used.

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MattP
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quote:
Pregnancy by rape in any form, forcible or non-forcible, should be covered.

Pregnancy due to willingly having sex with a partner (NOT rape) should not be covered.

We all got that. I'm still curious if you would attempt to legislate the difference. Would you require a woman who wants an abortion to admit to rape, file charges, or otherwise demonstrate her qualification for government funding for the procedure?
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Geraine
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Again, I don't think there should be a difference. This is part of the reason why I said it was utterly stupid for Republicans to be trying to push this legislation. What I didn't agree with the term redefining rape. It is trying to split it up into two different categories. Stupid for sure, but it isn't a redefinition. At least in the way I am looking at it.

To answer your question, no I wouldn't legislate the difference. The Republicans are idiots for even bringing the subject up.

Your other question is more difficult. I can't obtain any government benefit without proving that I qualify for it. Unemployment, welfare, disability, etc all requires that I demonstrate to a reasonable extent that I qualify.

Rape is more difficult because it is such a sensitive subject. I don't have a good answer for that. I would say yes if there was a way to demonstrate qualification in a decent and compassionate manner.

How is it being handled currently?

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Raymond Arnold
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(Having addressed the issue, I'd like to head off a potential dogpiling of Geraine)

I don't actually know how it is currently handled. I understand the conservative view that if anyone can claim "rape" with no particular proof, anyone can get an abortion for free which makes the restriction useless. But I also don't have any issue with abortion being treated like a perfectly normal procedure from the government's standpoint in the first place.

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Pegasus
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What are some examples of cases of rape in which police should not be involved?


As a pro-lifer even I can see that this legislation is mistaken in differentiating types of rape. I mostly agree with Geraine's thoughts.

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Blayne Bradley
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Next is G.O.P redefines "poor" so that you are no longer considered poor and covered under Social Security unless you are literally starving and/or homeless, more at 11.
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MattP
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quote:
What are some examples of cases of rape in which police should not be involved?
Those cases in which the woman does not want to involve the police.
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Belle
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But shouldn't she? I mean if we want to treat all forms of rape as a crime then by definition those crimes should be reported, no?

What good can come from a rapist not being brought to task for his crimes?

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Pegasus
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Would it not been seen as a positive benefit to society to have more cases of rape reported and hopefully prosecuted?
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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by Pegasus:
Would it not been seen as a positive benefit to society to have more cases of rape reported and hopefully prosecuted?

Sure, but are you going to compel a recent rape victim to do report the rape as a precondition for treatment?
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DDDaysh
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Just for the record, I understood Geraine's thoughts the way she first expressed them.

Second, I also think this is a horrible idea. The idea of any type of government policy considering any type of rape as some how not "bad enough" is... abhorrent.

While I am pro-choice, I'm not sure I could say I really want the government viewing it as a "perfectly normal procedure". I'm pro-choice because I don't think outlawing abortion works, and because I can't decide for a child that he's going to be raised by a mother who doesn't want him, but I certainly don't think abortion is GOOD or that it should be used for convenience sake.

Lastly, I have no idea how it's being handled now. However, I don't think it would be unreasonable for an abortion sought under the rape clause to have to at least produce a police report. I understand that victims are ashamed, that they may feel distress talking about it, and that they don't always act rationally and seek medical attention immediately after the fact. I'm sympathetic to that and truly do understand the trauma. HOWEVER, I also believe abortion is a serious matter. If the woman decides she wants one, I don't think it's unreasonable to require her to first report the incident to the police so that there is at least some chance that the predator will caught sometime in the future, so that hopefully he doesn't continue to victimize other people.

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Pegasus
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Certainly a police report would not prioritize over treatment, but there could be notification by the attending nurse and followup at the discretion of local enforcement.

Perhaps similar (not exactly) to how a gunshot wound victim would be treated in an ER.

I don't really have a strong opinion in this particular matter, it just strikes me that law enforcement should be involved when a crime has been committed, esp a sex offense that is likely to be repeated.

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Belle
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quote:
Sure, but are you going to compel a recent rape victim to do report the rape as a precondition for treatment?
What are you defning as treatment of the rape? The abortion?

I think if she wants taxpayer money for an abortion and she is claiming exemption due to rape, then yes, that rape should be reported.

Ideally, even as a pro-life person, I think the best way to handle the situation is to have it reported immediately, have the victim examined and treated by medical personnel, and morning-after pill treatment administered right away. That way the rapist is pursued by the authorities and the woman is given not only medical treatment, but hopefully the morning after pills work and she need never know if she would have become pregnant at all.

I think that is a humane way to deal with someone who has been through something as traumatic as rape. I have no trouble at all with medicaid paying for that.

I start to take issue with someone coming in 9 weeks pregnant or more and wanting taxpayer money to pay for an abortion being able to say "Oh yeah, I was raped" and no charges need be filed or any consequences come from that.

I don't like the idea of rapists getting away with their crime. I also don't like the idea of people lying about something as serious as rape.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
I don't like the idea of rapists getting away with their crime. I also don't like the idea of people lying about something as serious as rape.
I agree, but I also don't like the idea of forcing who has been through a rape to have to deal with it in a particular way. Rape is traumatic, different people respond to trauma in different ways, and there are genuine consequences to coming forward about it. Where you can report a mugging and never have to deal with social fallout surrounding it, a lot of the time the rapist will be part of their family or social group, and there's no way to report him without everyone finding out.
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Chris Bridges
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Honestly, I suspect this portion of the bill was put in there as an extreme attention-getter that can be later "reluctantly" removed from the bill as a concession, which will seem positive because in comparison, the rest of the bill seems reasonable.

If that clause is removed, is the rest of the bill worthwhile? Or should it be voted down as well?

[ February 01, 2011, 10:38 PM: Message edited by: Chris Bridges ]

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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
quote:
I don't like the idea of rapists getting away with their crime. I also don't like the idea of people lying about something as serious as rape.
I agree, but I also don't like the idea of forcing who has been through a rape to have to deal with it in a particular way. Rape is traumatic, different people respond to trauma in different ways, and there are genuine consequences to coming forward about it. Where you can report a mugging and never have to deal with social fallout surrounding it, a lot of the time the rapist will be part of their family or social group, and there's no way to report him without everyone finding out.
This is my concern as well. While I believe it is in society's interest for each rape to be reported, the victim of rape faces both real and perceived risks in doing so. I don't want the victim's fear of repercussions to stand in the way of her ability to get an abortion.

I fear that all such a requirement would do is convince some women to lie, others to avoid treatment or get unsafe treatment, or be unnecessarily forced to pay for treatment.

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DarkKnight
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Washington Post This is a bipartisan bill so it is supported by both sides. Like too many laws, things are left vague for lawyers and lawmakers to make money and political points.

quote:
"Rape is an abhorrent crime of violence," Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), one of 10 Democratic sponsors of the bill, said in a statement. The bill "was not intended to change existing law regarding taxpayer funding for abortion in cases of rape, nor is it expected that it would do so. Nonetheless, the legislative process will provide an opportunity to clarify this should such a need exist."
quote:
The Hyde Amendment has been renewed every year since it was introduced in 1976, but calls to make it permanent became more urgent last year after the passage of the health-care overhaul, which some critics think has expanded the use of federal money for abortions.

The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act was intended, in part, to remedy that, but abortion-rights groups say it goes much further and cite the "forcible rape" inclusion as one egregious example. Although the bill's backers say it is not meant to change a widely held definition of rape, critics say the new wording could leave it open to interpretation by the courts or others.

In a sign of the potential confusion that could arise, one senior GOP aide said the wording was meant to prevent coverage for minors who engage in consensual sex that results in pregnancy. In some states, consensual sex involving minors is considered statutory rape.

But Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, said he interpreted the wording to exclude all statutory rape, which is typically understood as sex between an adult and a minor.

"We don't believe that the Hyde Amendment has ever been construed to permit federal funding for abortion based merely on the youth of the mother," said Johnson, whose group supports exemptions only in cases where the life of the woman is threatened.


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Pegasus
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Thank goodness they cleared that up.
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FoolishTook
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I'm don't support abortion in any case except for the life of the mother. I consider it the taking of a human life, so it doesn't make a difference if the mother is guilty of "losing control" or not.

While it's difficult for me to feel that abortion is an effective fix-it-all for a rape victim, I am aware of how horrible it would be for a woman to carry the child of her rapist to term.

I have no easy answers for that.

I agree with Belle's stance. A possible pregnancy can be prevented if a rape victim is willing to do the correct thing and go to the police. I also understand how difficult that could be, potentially impossible in some cases.

There are no easy answers, but paying taxes, then having that money used to fund abortions is morally reprehensible to me. Why not get rid of federal funding for abortion in all cases?

There are a lot of medical procedures that people need in order to be emotionally and physically healthy that are not funded by the government, so why this?

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Mucus
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Actually, the question is why are there so many medically necessary medical procedures that aren't funded by your government [Wink]
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Paul Goldner
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"There are no easy answers, but paying taxes, then having that money used to fund abortions is morally reprehensible to me. Why not get rid of federal funding for abortion in all cases?"

Because the country is a better place with abortion available to those who need it, and often those who need it are going to need government assistance for ANY medical procedure.

Government funded killing of a person is morally reprehensible to me. But you don't see me calling for the complete absence of funding for the military. There's a reason for that... the thing that appears morally reprehensible to me is, if absolutely barred and no tax dollars spent on it, something that would be replaced by something more reprehensible than an offense against my sensibilities.

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