Should a twelve-year-old girl impregnated by her mother’s boyfriend be forced to carry the child to term? Yes she should, according to 173 House Republicans, including the Speaker. Because she wasn’t the victim of forcible rape, you see. And since “mother’s boyfriend” isn’t a legally recognized status, she’s not technically the victim of “incest,” either.
James Joyner is right to point out that the “rape exception” to anti-abortion laws makes either no sense or the wrong kind of sense. If bans on abortion reflect the inalienable human rights of the fertilized egg, then surely those rights can’t be diminished by the conditions of conception. The “except for rape” rule would be justified only if the point of the law is to punish women for having sex. (That is the point, of course, which is why the “pro-life” lobby is strongly anti-contraception and anti-sex education. But it wouldn’t do to say so.)
Still, the gross (in both senses of the term) injustice of forcing a woman to bear her rapist’s child means that absolute bans on abortion have very little support among the voters. And the right-to-lifers have generally been satisfied with something that, according to the logic of their own position, shouldn’t satisfy them at all.
But the vicious lunacy of the new Republican majority in the house seemingly knows no bounds. H.R. 3, “The No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act,” – identified as a high priority by Speaker John Boehner – reiterates current law banning the use of federal funds for abortion, but changes the rape exemption to provide that funding shall be available “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.”
The key word is “forcible.” Date-rape, rape by drugs, and statutory rape are all excluded. So my hypothetical twelve-year-old – and some uncounted number of not-so-hypothetical victims of other “non-forcible” rapes each year – are S.O.L.
If the Republicans were trying to eliminate the rape exception entirely, they could at least lay claim to a sort of foolish consistency. But given that they’re willing to deprive some fetuses of their inalienable right to life in justice to their innocent mothers, the decision to proclaim that a large class of rape victims is not innocent can only be called stupid and heartless.
It’s time for Democrats – and sensible people of other political persuasions – to start calling the Republicans on their mindless extremism. The downside of Barack Obama’s bipartisan rhetoric is that he hasn’t clearly explained to the country that the days when there were two responsible political parties contending for power are over, at least for now. But that just puts the burden on the rest of us to make that case.
Footnote And Michelle Bachmann has decided that tax cuts for the rich are not only more important than education for they young, they’re more important than decent treatment for wounded warriors. Where do they find these people? If Democrats can’t make Republicans pay a political price for this sort of nonsense …