HR #3: The Whole Bill is Rape - Not Just the Rape Provision

by: debcoop

Wed Feb 02, 2011 at 20:00

Many of you have now heard about the right's inflammatory redefinition of rape. You may or may not realize that it is only one part of another truly extreme bill, HR #3, The No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act. This bill is codifies the Hyde Amendment and eliminates aboriton coverage in all insurance. Let's be clear.  They are not redefining rape in a court of law. They are only doing it in the context of the exceptions outlined in the Hyde Amendment.  That is heinous enough, especially since the standard they want is to return was an older, vicious standard that they persecuted rape victims with.  It is rape only if it's forcible rape.  That was once the bruised, battered and bloodied standard.  If you didn't fight back hard enough,  then it's not rape.

Since 1977, the standard exceptions in the Hyde amendment were rape, incest and life and health of the mother.  The health exception was eliminated a while ago, though it would periodically make a comeback.  If you qualified under any of those, you as a poor woman could still get funding to get an abortion.  They are also vindictively narrowing the incest exception. If you're an adult it wouldn't apply.  When is incest not incest? When you are 18. It could be a Jeopardy question.  Actually we are all in jeopardy....not just women, but all of us.

You have gotten many emails I am sure from some of the national choice groups, certainly from the DCCC.  I am sure they make your blood boil.  Cong. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said that this provision was an assault against women.

"It is absolutely outrageous," Wasserman Schultz said in an exclusive interview late Monday afternoon. "I consider the proposal of this bill a violent act against women."

She is right but the entire bill is violence against women, not just the rape provision.

As Digby has written this provision is a negotiating ploy by the right that our side should not fall for.  Nor should we let the politicians on our side declare war only on this smaller battle. There is a much larger war going on.

Digby says in " Look at the Bright Shiny Object"

debcoop :: HR #3: The Whole Bill is Rape - Not Just the Rape Provision

But I suspect the heinousness of this latest attack is no accident. The conservatives understand the art of negotiation and I think they have put this provision in there for the express purpose of creating a firestorm, drawing the attention of the pro-choice groups and then "reluctantly" giving it up in exchange for the Democrats giving in on all the other, less sexy, changes they really want. Changes which will restrict abortion for far more people throughout the country than this rape redefinition ever would.

Too often in the past we have fallen for this kind of distraction. She goes on.

The fight to extend the Hyde Amendment and make it the permanent law of the land has been going on for more than 30 years. It has been a hard fought battle, with the forces for women losing in increments, over and over and over again, mostly due to the fact that they've been used as bargaining chips in "more important" battles. Frederick Clarkson wrote a great piece about this battle a while back at Religion Dispatches which is well worth reading in its entirety, if you aren't aware of this history:

They are going to be willing to lose on this in order to claim some crafty bi partisan victory by getting rid of this provision.  It is like being distracted by a shiny object in the street while a Mack truck comes barreling down toward the baby carriage in the cross walk.  

The whole bill is 100 times more dangerous than the narrowing the rape exception, as awful as that is is.  And it is is not the worst part of the bill.   We need to focus on the whole, far more dangerous bill.  Do not be distracted.  It's what the magician does when he's sawing the pretty lady in half.  Don't fall for the trick or trying to save one pretty lady.

I don't want to "win" by changing the rape exception, ( and the incest exception) back to what it has been, but then pass the whole bill.  Nor do I want to "win" without  having an argument on the whole bill.

You win the rape argument, you help anywhere from hundreds to maybe thousands of women.  But you lose the argument on the rest of the bill, you lose the ability to get an abortion for MILLIONS of women. I would rather lose that battle and win the war. Winning the war means defeating the ENTIRE bill so the rape provision disappears as well.  

I would rather make sure that the radical ideas underlying the whole bill get a very thorough debunking.  And radical and far reaching they are. As KagroX said so insightfully.  

Take the rape provisions out, and you're left with a bill that paves the way for using the tax code to select every American's health care options for them, direct from Washington.

I will go into that tomorrow in the last post on this.

NOW, IF the rape exception is used to discredit the intentions behind the entire bill and it is used to highlight  the animosity the right wing has to ALL WOMEN, then use the rape exception.  That would be great to use it that way.  But the movement, the choice movement and those who support us  must not let the tail wag the tiger. What history has shown is that when only one part of a complex bill gets ALL the attention,  then that is all that may get better.  

Winning only on the rape exception is losing.

The best way to win on the whole bill is to play offense not defense.  The best way to defeat the whole bill is to go after the Hyde amendment.  This bill is once more outflanking the choice community who is still trying to recover from the Stupak induced losses. It would be really good if the national groups would learn how to play offense.

Secondly it would be a hell of a lot better if our friends in Congress would focus on the bigger loss, not this smaller distraction which the right will oh so "gudgingly: give up.   They are willing to lose small to win big.

As digby says

So now we are dealing with a new congress that is determined to pick up where the health care bill left off. And it appears that the Democrats are getting distracted by the bright shiny object and failing to engage on the real issue the Republicans are targeting, which is a further restriction on abortion rights and the final codification of Hyde. And as usual, I have to wonder if they can possibly be this dumb or if they are preparing to cave as part of their ongoing quixotic strategy to find "common ground" going into 2012. Indeed, considering the president's comments about "tradition" I have to think he would be more than willing to entertain a bipartisan agreement on this issue. There is no reason to believe that he won't sign the bill. (Of course, he and the Democrats can heroically take credit for ensuring that there was no "rape" provision, so we'll all be asked to cheer our team for the good work they are doing on our behalf.)

In my view, if there is to be any chance that this "compromise" doesn't happen, pro-choice groups should not play this game at all. They should not play their designated role in this as Wasserman-Shultz did yesterday and instead demand that Hyde be rolled back completely. It is an unconscionable exception to every other law in this land in that it allows individuals and institutions to decide their "consciences" don't allow them to pay taxes for a specific program. (The irony of this happening at the same time that liberals are fighting like wildcats for the health care mandate is more than I can take.)

Let's talk about radical demands.  REPEAL THE HYDE AMENDMENT If we compromise around the rape exception, we get this bill that denies millions of women access to abortion.  If we want a good  compromise so that  this bill doesn't pass, let's widen the debate.  Let's do what the right has successfully done for 30 years.  REPEAL THE HYDE AMENDMENT.  

Think like the generals at the battle of Salamis, Actium and throughout the ages.  Outflank them.  Demand the repeal of the Hyde amendment so that for the first time in 30 years, the middle will have  moved back to where it began.

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The degree to which... (4.00 / 2)
...this is all so monstrously offensive is hard to express.

My personal experience with the right wing's intense hatred -- for that's what is really at the core here: hatred of self, hatred of sexuality, hatred of women, founded principally in evangelical "Christianity" -- goes back to the late '50's and early '60's when the phrasing was "If you're going to play, you're going to pay".

This was directed at young women and girls: if you're going to play with sex, and you get yourself knocked up, tough shit, you're going to have the baby. We'll make you have the baby as punishment.

Of course none of this applied to boys or young men: they were expected to get sex from girls and suffer none of the consequences.

Even when rarely forced to marry the girl they knocked up, they could go right on with their philandering.

(Viz: John Ensign et al).

In the late '60's the phrasing was made into the more abstract and generally palatable "right of the unborn child" but the net effect was the same: the result of sex out of wedlock to young women was the baby they had created.

Childrearing out-of-wedlock: eighteen to twenty years of punishment.

And of course rape was always the girl's fault.

What was an unmarried young woman doing, putting herself in a situation where she made a man do that to her?

Short skirts, provocative dress and language, drinking?

What the hell did they expect? They deserved it.

The hatred these people evidence is staggering.

What is even more staggering are the recent developments that suggest that they've lost all inhibitions or coyness about trying to camouflage what they're really up to...

Actually, it did apply to them. (0.00 / 0)
Of course none of this applied to boys or young men: they were expected to get sex from girls and suffer none of the consequences.

A lot of resentful high school boys were pressured into marriage in the 50's and 60's; nowadays they'd be burdened with child support. The current generation of young men seems to understand that they have a stake in keeping abortion freely available and shouldn't be lumped in with the religious Right.

As to the post, I fully agree with DebCoop and Digby - take a step forward, not back. Play offence by moving to repeal Hyde. I remember attending a huge pro-choice rally in DC once - all those people can't have gone away.

[ Parent ]
Yeah... (0.00 / 0)'re quite correct.

In my high school senior class (1965) a guy and a girl got pregnant; they were forced to marry; he had to drop out of school before graduation and get a job; all very responsible and respectable.

Except that he went right back to the same male-oriented promiscuous behavior that connected him to his new wife in the first place.

It was what boys were expected to do then.

Hasn't changed much, at least as far as many boys go.

The current generation of young men seems to understand that they have a stake in keeping abortion freely available and shouldn't be lumped in with the religious Right.

I wasn't aware that I was lumping immature males with the religious right.

The hatred these people evidence is staggering.

What is even more staggering are the recent developments that suggest that they've lost all inhibitions or coyness about trying to camouflage what they're really up to...

Maybe I need to qualify my pronouns, if that's the right grammatic term...

[ Parent ]
Was? Do you honestly think any of this rhetoric ever went away? (4.00 / 1)
If so, you really haven't been paying attention. I don't mean to isolate you, but it's sort of astonishing how little the readers of male-dominated progressive blogs will do to follow feminist critiques of contemporary culture. It's hard for me not to think that if women's issues were consistently and methodically made part of the "progressive" dialogue, we could ever get to this point. We absolutely aren't on offense, and "we" should rightfully, logically, sensibly (women are of course a core component of the progressive base) extend beyond pro-choice groups into the larger progressive movement.

[ Parent ]

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