A bill that would redefine rape was not meant to end federal funding allocations for women that sought to terminate pregnancies due to rape, a Democratic congressman said recently.
“The language of HR 3 was not intended to change existing law regarding taxpayer funding for abortion in cases of rape, nor is it expected that it would do so,” Rep. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois said in a statement to Talking Points Memo Saturday.
He continued, “Nonetheless, the legislative process will provide an opportunity to clarify this should such a need exist.”
Lipinski, who co-sponsored the so-called “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” is a chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus and a leading anti-abortion voice in the Democratic Party.
Currently, the federal government denies taxpayer monies to be used to pay for abortions, except in cases when pregnancies result from rape or incest or when the pregnancy endangers the woman’s life.
However, that could all change if the bill’s language is not clarified. Instead of keeping the 30-year-old definition of rape in federal law, the bill would modify it to “forcible rape,” thereby severely limiting the health care choices of millions of American women and their families.
In other words, rape would not be rape unless violence were involved; but the term “forcible rape” was left undefined, leading some to speculate its meaning since it is also not defined in the federal criminal code or in some state laws.
The bill largely co-sponsored by Republicans, if it becomes law, would also disallow parents of minors from paying for pregnancy termination for their daughters with tax-exempt health savings accounts. Also, the cost of the private health insurance that covered the treatment would not be able to be deducted as a medical expense for tax purposes.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) hailed the bill, introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), as “one of our highest legislative priorities.”
“A ban on taxpayer funding of abortions is the will of the people, and it ought to be the will of the land,” Boehner said on the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said recently that Smith’s bill marked a new beginning for future attacks on women’s health.
In fact, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) plans to introduce a bill that would strip Planned Parenthood of all Title X family planning funding, which has made it possible for millions of low-income women to choose and pay for contraception and other basic preventive health care since 1970,” she said.