Thursday, February 3, 2011
I am agitated.
I'm trying my hardest not to be--it's unhealthy. I can feel the stress taking over my body, causing me to shake. But some issues are worth agitation. Or downright anger.
Yesterday, there was a flurry among many of my friends on facebook about a bill put forth in the House by Republican Chris Smith, called the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." Whether you are on the side of pro-life or pro-choice, the issue with this bill--the issue that agitates me--is how it is attempting to redefine rape. The bill says: "cases of 'forcible' rape but not statutory or coerced rape," are the only cases in which federal funding for abortions will be allowable.
As a writer, I am obsessed with words. Words matter. And in this case, the word "forcible" is being used by politicians in a manner that is so demeaning, so backwards, and so hurtful...I'm speechless.
Essentially what this stipulation is saying is that unless a woman is forced into the act of sex in some physically violent manner, federal funding for an abortion will not be available to her. One has to wonder--will she have to show proof of her physical injury? Will there need to be bruising of some kind? The message that's being sent is that even if you didn't give consent, unless your rapist slapped you around, you're not deserving of public support. Your rape, what you endured, doesn't count in the eyes of the law. Those psychological scars? The mental anguish that will last years after any physical bruises have disappeared? That is not proof enough. Perhaps you didn't fight hard enough. Perhaps you weren't even raped at all.
I try not to be too reactionary, especially when it comes to politics. Perhaps this bill is not something to get too bent-out-of-shape about. In fact, Democrat Daniel Lipinski, a co-sponsor of the bill, said: "The language of [the bill] was not intended to change existing law regarding taxpayer funding for abortion in cases of rape." Okay then. But then why, Mr. Lipinski, include that word "forcible" at all?
At some point, I feel one has to say something. Because what's next? Perhaps legislators will decide to place the word "unprovoked" in front of the word "rape." Were you wearing a short skirt at the time of the assault? Yes? Well then, you were asking for it. No funding for you.
Here's a link to a petition against the bill:
I object to their phrasing it as "dangerous GOP legislation" since some Democrats support the bill as well. I understand where they're coming from, since a majority of the backers are Republican, but I hope an issue such as this would transcend any political affiliation. If you are a woman, or if you love and respect women, I hope you'd consider signing.