Last week, Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced a new bill to the floor: the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The bill is meant to move forward on a ban on taxpayer money being used towards abortion. This means that patients under the new health care plan would not be able to have an abortion covered by their insurance. This echoes the Hyde Amendment, a law that has been in place since 1976. The Hyde Amendment has banned coverage for abortions under Medicaid and Medicare, with exception for cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother's life.
The new bill, however, changes the wording just slightly. Slightly enough to make it completely offensive. The new bill, as introduced yesterday, adds the word "forcible" in front of the word "rape" in the exceptions. So it would read "...except in the case of forcible rape, incest, or to save the mother's life."
Say WHAT?!? Since when is any rape not forced? Color me confused, but I thought that was very definition of rape. Seriously. I looked it up.
Rape: 1. an act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person; 2. the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse; 3. statutory rape; 4. an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violationSay You: What's the big deal? It's just one little word.
As a rape survivor, I can tell you that it's insulting. And scary. In my situation, it was not a violent act. I was not held down. There was no knife to my throat or gun to my head. It was not in a back alley. It was not a stranger off the street who grabbed me from behind. It was at a party, by a guy I'd just met, who wouldn't take no for an answer.
And it fucked. me. up. I couldn't sleep for months. I used to be a social butterfly but I spent most of that summer locked in my bedroom with the lights out, watching DVDs on my computer. I moved to Pittsburgh to start grad school and started having panic attacks. I started dating a really great guy in Pittsburgh but would completely shut down when he tried to get intimate. Once I finally realized that my anxiety and fear was preventing me from meeting people and having a good time in a great city, I started seeing a counselor. It helped, but it took 6 solid months of weekly exposure therapy to get me to where I was comfortable being in large groups of new people.
I struggled for a really long time with being comfortable calling what happened to me "rape." In my mind, rape was something happened in big cities down dark alleys to women held at gunpoint. Not in a well-lit apartment in a small town in Pennsylvania. But it really came down to the fact that I said no. A lot. And loudly. And he didn't stop. And that's rape. Gun or no gun. Who are these politicians who think that they can tell me it's not? Or the 13-year-old who is frightened into having sex with her 24-year-old uncle? You're going to tell us that since it wasn't "forced" you won't pay for me to abort the child of a monster? Excuse me, but fuck you!
It's scary to me that politicians are looking at this and thinking it's ok. It's scary that they are trying to, on a federal level, redefine the meaning of rape. That's not good, you guys.
As it turns out, Rep. Smith retracted his original wording and today he resubmitted the bill as it was under the Hyde Amendment, removing the word forcible. But this kind of thing cannot even be allowed to be considered in the future. We have to be vigilant. We have to take a stand. As women. As human beings. We owe it to each other.