Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Redefining rape . . . much ado about probably nothing

(Thanks to our friend Jay for bringing this to our attention.)

Some House Republicans are seeking to enact the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." One portion of the proposed act, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, deals with the rape exception to Federal funding. It reads:  "The [abortion funding] limitations . . . shall not apply to an abortion -- (1) if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest . . .." http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h3/text

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.  The pro-abortion forces are having a conniption because the Smith bill would, supposedly, narrow existing law, which does not require a rape to be "forcible" in order for Federal funding to be allowed.  They claim it is "redefining rape." The Smith bill "is scary," declares MoveOn.Org. "This bill takes us back to a time when just saying 'no' wasn't enough to qualify as rape," says Steph Sterling, a lawyer and senior adviser to the National Women's Law Center.  http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/republican-plan-redefine-rape-abortion

Sigh. Here we go. They act as if the GOP wants to roll back the clock to a time before the wave of feminist rape reforms that made it much easier to charge and convict men and boys of rape -- reforms enacted, in large part, because rape reformers fraudulently convinced everyone that only two percent of rape claims are false.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Smith bill would not alter the crime of rape. Nor would it impose the criminal "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard onto the requirement that a "forcible rape" be proven in order to obtain Federal abortion funding.

At issue here is this question: to what extent should Americans be forced to pay for a procedure that a sizable number of them find morally repugnant?

But perhaps we need not even grapple with that question -- as you'll see below, I predict that the vagueness of this proposed act will be clarified in a manner that appeases the pro-abortion forces as this bill works its way through the House and Senate.  Let's briefly examine the issues.

FORCIBLE: This bill would  prohibit the use of Federal dollars to fund abortions if the rape wasn't "forcible."  What does "forcible" mean here? It's anybody's guess. In the "rape" milieu, "forcible" generally refers to rapes that aren't statutory rape or the product of incest.

My guess is that this term will be clearly defined as the bill moves through the House to placate the pro-abortion forces, most likely in the manner the Clery Act defines it.  I will be shocked if the GOP defines "forcible" to require, for example, that the female must resist.

COERCION: Likewise, I expect the word "coercion" to be defined as the bill moves through the House. Perhaps the GOP will allow funding for abortions where the pregnancy was the result of "physical coercion" (e.g., a rapist has a knife to a woman's throat), but not psychological coercion.

STATUTORY RAPE: The pro-abortion forces are having a conniption because, they claim, the bill "would rule out federal assistance for abortions sought following statutory rape.  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."  http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/republican-plan-redefine-rape-abortion

Well, here's where it gets interesting.  There is a tradition in this country for insisting that statutory rape isn't "rape-rape" -- that it's not the moral equivalent of common law or forcible rape, isn't there? 

Let me put it this way: if the pro-abortion forces are so incensed about this aspect of the proposed bill, why aren't they also incensed about the following?

If your son is statutorily raped by a woman, he will be liable for child support if the statutory rapist decides to have the baby (which means, you will have to pay for your son's child). In the case of County of San Luis Obispo v. Nathaniel J., 57 Cal. Rptr. 2d 843 (Ct. App. 1996), a thirty-four-year-old woman had sex with a fifteen-year-old boy and became pregnant. The woman was convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor -- commonly called statutory rape. She decided to have the child, and after she gave birth to her daughter, she received Aid for Families with Dependent Children, and the county sought reimbursement for the AFDC payments from the father, the 15-year-old boy. The court held that the boy, a statutory rape victim, was financially liable for the child that resulted from his victimization.

This case is not alone: "Two state supreme courts and several state appellate courts have ruled that male statutory rape victims can be financially liable for supporting a child resulting from their criminal victimization." R. Jones, ARTICLE: INEQUALITY FROM GENDER-NEUTRAL LAWS: WHY MUST MALE VICTIMS OF STATUTORY RAPE PAY CHILD SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN RESULTING FROM THEIR VICTIMIZATION? 36 Ga. L. Rev. 411 (2002). There are no reported cases where female victims of statutory rape have been held to a similar support obligation.

I've never heard a feminist complain about that one, have you?

INCEST: The pro-abortion forces are also screaming because the incest exception would only allow federally funded abortions if the woman is under 18. http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/republican-plan-redefine-rape-abortion. Hmm. This means that if the incest victim is over 18, and presumably a participant to consensual sex, funding is not available to her. I don't see this one changing, at least in the House's version of the bill.

BOTTOM LINE: The GOP representatives are making a very mild statement on behalf of their constituents: they don't want to pay for elective abortions. Undefined terms will be defined, I predict, and the usual compromises with the Devil will be made. In the end, things will be pretty much the way they are now.