Exclusive: Wasserman Schultz calls GOP abortion bill ‘a violent act against women’

By Sahil Kapur
Tuesday, February 1, 2011 8:23 EDT
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WASHINGTON – Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) on Monday tore into House Republicans for proposing legislation that would limit access to abortion coverage for some rape victims.

The Florida Democrat, a rising star in her party and vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, is a leading voice on women’s issues. And she didn’t mince her words in an interview with Raw Story, fiercely denouncing GOP colleagues over H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”

“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.”

The broad anti-abortion measure would restrict federally-assisted abortion coverage to cases of “forcible rape,” excluding in that definition instances where women are drugged and raped, where women say “no” but do not physically fight off the perpetrator, and various cases of date rape. It also excludes instances of statutory rape in which minors are impregnated by adults. The victim in all cases would be denied abortion coverage under Medicaid and forbidden from seeking health care tax benefits.

Introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the bill boasts 173 mainly Republican co-sponsors and has been designated a top priority by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

“It really is — to suggest that there is some kind of rape that would be okay to force a woman to carry the resulting pregnancy to term, and abandon the principle that has been long held, an exception that has been settled for 30 years, is to me a violent act against women in and of itself,” Wasserman Schultz said.

“Rape is when a woman is forced to have sex against her will, and that is whether she is conscious, unconscious, mentally stable, not mentally stable,” the four-term congresswoman added.

The measure would also raise costs for businesses who want to offer employees insurance plans with abortion coverage, by eliminating health care tax deductions that have long been federal law.

Spokespersons for Boehner and Smith did not return requests for comment.

Dead on arrival in the Senate?

Wasserman Schultz dismissed the effort as a nonstarter in the Democratic-led Senate and a guaranteed veto by President Barack Obama, but conceded that it may pass the GOP-controlled House. She called it “yet another example” of how the “extreme right-wing fringe of Republican Party has complete control over their agenda.”

Democrats have long held a strong voter advantage nationally among women — President Obama won the female vote by 13 points. But exit polls from the November midterm elections saw that margin narrow considerably, with women evenly split between the two parties in House races.

“To have H.R. 3, the Republicans’ third most important priority, say that rape cannot be an exception to federal funding for abortion…sends an incredibly strong message to women,” Wasserman Schultz said, describing it as the GOP’s “opening curtain” on women’s issues.

The pro-abortion-rights group NARAL lashed out at the measure’s backers, calling it “unbelievably cruel and heartless toward survivors of rape and incest.”

“We are seeing more and more anti-choice lawmakers who are willing to deny survivors of rape and incest access to abortion care,” NARAL president Nancy Keenan told Raw Story. “If they can’t block access altogether, they will work around the edges. Rep. Smith’s ‘Stupak on Steroids’ bill is an example of this piecemeal strategy because it seeks to make the narrow exceptions for public funding of abortion care for rape and incest survivors even more restrictive.”

Wasserman Schultz also said the bill contradicted the GOP’s core political philosophy.

“Even though Republicans say they want government out of our lives, this is the most intrusive governmental act that we’ve probably seen to date in the personal lives of women,” she said.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NU3OPLVWXIQHS3E3FPM7LNE7IE Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    America is the dream of freedom and liberty that all men aspire to. When George Bush was lying through his teeth to get us into war, that did not change what America was and the promise that citizenship offers in her. The Church is the teachings of Jesus Christ in a visible form. The men who do not keep those teachings are not the Church. They are people in the Church who have failed to do what is right.

    When you make that distinction, you will be able to see why I continue in the Church, even though men in the Church have failed Her and us miserably at times.

  • Jaimie11

    You know Heil, I have heard the term Feminazi uttered for some time now, and had always thought it was a term meant to demean, not a descriptive term. I’ve always hated it for that reason, but now I have discovered it IS a descriptive term. It fits you to a T.

  • Jaimie11

    Not when it came to people he didn’t approve of. Abortion and far worse was just fine then. I wonder how you managed to get born.

  • Rosa Louisa

    Oh God there is no help for you…You will remain ignorant until you start thinking for yourself and not repeating what others tell you…We will agree to disagree…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CT4WMN43BZAQ2NXZIJQ7RWJRGM Moony

    I am an atheist. I am a woman. I have been raped. I am pro-life.

    That said, I oppose this bill. I oppose the re-defining of “rape” to be exclusive of most rape situations. I oppose the discrimination of funding of legal medical procedures. While I don’t believe that abortion is the answer (pregnancy can be prevented in most rape cases, when help is sought quickly), it is legal, and rape is one of the very few situations where I could approve of a first-trimester abortion. (I also have strong views about women who falsely claim rape, but that is another matter) While abortions are legal, I don’t think that the government should be able to pick and choose which abortions should be covered under any health care plan, tax-funded or not. Moreover, rape is rape is rape, and to lessen a date rape is to harm all those victims all over again.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that people should be backing the correct bill/amendment and I thank you for bringing that to our attention. However, I would say that the fact that 60% of women who qualify for federally-funded abortions is kindof a null and void point. To me its kindof like “60% of people don’t go to the ER when they are having a life threatining problem so we should take away the funding”. (And yes the whole funding part goes under the other amendment…i get that…I’m just saying that part of your comment doesn’t make sense to me…the rest I totally agree with).

  • Anonymous

    I truly cannot believe that this is even an issue. What a joke! This is what our government, or rather, republicans see as an accomplishment? These people are getting paid for basically insulting women and depriving them of healthcare. and really, everyone else of their healthcare!? What’s wrong with these people? I’d love to see what would happen if they had been deprived of their own healthcare. They just cannot seem to put themselves in another person’s shoes and hence, they have no qualification to judge nor make decisions for those people. I’ve seen people say and do some stupid things, but this is outrageous. If men were put in women’s shoes, they would never dare question aspects of their needs and protection, but then again the story goes that women were chosen to have children because men didn’t have the gusto to do it. I’m not sure how, but in some way men seem to believe that they are superior to women. Let me say this, for every man out there that believes and agrees with this republican garbage, you are not a man, you are a sad coward that is hurting and endangering who you choose as a companion in life. Look at your wife, daughter or girlfriend and say, ‘When a man abuses you, attacks you, and uses you violently you’re shit out of luck’. Tell me where is the justice in that.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NQI3EYDNA7TMQXVT7HGIY22HD4 Jessica

    That is your beliefe but there are those who do not believe, or believe differently. You have the right to believe what you want or that you think is law, but we also have the right to believe what we want. you dont agree with abortions? that fine dont have any. No one is asking you too. but you do not have the right to tell women that they do not have the choice that they must adhere to your rules and your regulations according to your beliefe because in the end no one really knows whats on the other side. and if we do happen to make the wrong choice and god does see fit to punish us then that is his choice that is his job to bring us to heel and until you can show me, and prove to me that your beliefes and your religion is right, and god does really exist you have no right or reason to deny me my rights over my body. My view on abortion has nothing to do with rape or incest,My view is based soley on the decision, a womans decision. and wether you think it right or wrong that is your decision to make just as i have my decision to make,

  • Anonymous

    This is why we have separation of church and state in this country. You are entitled to your beliefs, but not to impose them on others. Those of religious persuasion are trying to use the reins of government to impose their religious beliefs on others by law. A fertized egg or fetus before viability is not a person, but a potential life that requires the woman to provide for it and supply it with what it needs to become complete. If you choose to believe that God wanted that life to come into being that way, you are saying God was complicit in the rape or act that started it. If you believe in an all powerful God, he would have the power to send that same soul into a different body, it was not that soul’s only chance at life. Religious people are not infallible. Catholic priests are a prime example. The child abuse scandals and the cover-ups at the highest levels of the church, including shuffling those priests into other positions where they could continue the abuse, show that they are just as subject to human error and sin as everybody else, and they did not put the sanctimony of life as their highest objective. That is hypocrisy.

  • Anonymous

    apparently some people don’t get sarcasm.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4RTSHH6Q6AVYG3FUFXWFVB2NMU irsquchick

    No matter how you put it, it comes rihgt down to the simple fact;
    1) You & your wife are allowed THAT choice.
    2) Your friend, who had no control over what she was born with has THE choice to deal with her situation in the way she feels is best.
    Plain and simply….EVERYONE should be allowed to make THEIR OWN CHOICES! No one, not the government OR YOU, should be allowed to choose how someone else should live their life!


  • Anonymous

    You forgot one person who does not get a choice in abortion — the baby.

    I doubt the choice the child would want is to have its arms pulled off, its legs severed, or its brains sucked out in partial birth abortion.


  • Anonymous

    If abortion is healthcare, pray tell what disease does it cure?

  • ProgressiveInNewYork

    Good For Her

    Of course one shouldn’t be surprised. This is the same mind set that said lesbians should be raped to ‘correct’ them.
    Why don’t these righties just go back to the old, “She Had It Coming, look at what she was wearing.” Which rep was it that said you should just lie back and enjoy it.
    Any woman who votes rethug must really hate herself.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_J2B5E6SI7P7YCPCI2MLD4Z5A34 Mark Gillar

    So, if a male and female in a consensual relationship create a life, the male has no vote in the matter
    because he doesn’t have to carry the child for nine months. I THINK NOT!!! You’d damned sure go to
    court to seek child support if you decided to carry the baby to term and the father wanted no part of
    raising it.

    For the record, I’m I’m in favor of abortion in the case of rape, incest, and possible danger to the mother
    during pregnancy. I am a conservative on most issues except this one.

    Your chauvinistic comments here are both ignorant and disgusting. You’re not just pro-choice, you’re

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UBSSNYE7WQ5WPOWS3UJ2WREPOE Zane

    You’d better be trolling, dude. And if you are you’re a pretty sadistic one.