GOP called out for saying forcible rape differs from other rape

forcible rape

HR 3, a Republican bill written to make getting abortions harder, included the discredited term "forcible rape." Image: CC Yire Shalom 300/Flickr

By writing a bill with language that includes the term “forcible rape,” Republican males in Congress invited an angry backlash in their effort to control reproductive choices of American women. HR 3, a Republican anti-abortion bill called the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, included cases of “forcible rape” as an exception. House Republicans scratched forcible rape from the bill after being accused of trying to change the definition of rape for political purposes.

Note to Republicans: rape is rape

“Forcible rape” is a discredited term widely perceived to imply that some forms of rape aren’t a violent crime. Republicans wrote HR 3 by inserting the term into existing legislation called the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment is a provision barring the use of certain federal funds for abortions that isn’t a permanent law. It’s called a “rider” that Republicans have attached to key spending bills since 1976. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act is an effort by House Republicans to make the Hyde Amendment permanent. After scorching criticism from women’s groups and a widely viewed satire on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” mocking the use of the term, Republicans believed removing “forcible rape” from the bill would put the fire out.

Forcible rape and other fine print in HR 3

The original language of the Hyde Amendment lists exceptions for abortions that could be federally funded that include rape, incest or life-threatening illnesses. In HR. 3, Republicans changed the language to exempt only pregnancies resulting from “forcible rape,” not rape cases where the use of force could not be proved. Republicans also wrote HR 3 to exclude statutory rape and limit exemptions for incest to minors only. HR 3 would also hike taxes on Americans with private insurance plans that cover abortions.

Outrage over HR 3 not quelled

Removing the term “forcible rape” from HR 3 did little to quell criticism of the bill. Provisions disqualifying pregnancies resulting from statutory rape or incest in women 18 or older remain in HR 3. Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, told CBS News she found it “deeply offensive” that House Republicans would delete “forcible” but leave in the language regarding incest. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said “I consider the proposal of this bill a violent act against women.” As a top priority for House Republicans, hearings on H.R. 3 start next week.


CBS News

Washington Post

Mother Jones


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