WASHINGTON – Engulfed by criticisms from women’s advocates, House Republicans have reportedly given up on legislative language that would deny some rape victims the ability to seek federally-assisted abortion coverage.
But according to the leading abortion rights group NARAL, a new version of a related bill would allow hospitals to deny abortion care to a woman even if her life is in danger. (NARAL obtained an advance copy of the new markup.)
A spokesperson for NARAL told Raw Story that Republicans have added a provision to H.R 358, the “Protect Life Act,” sponsored by Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA), to amend the Affordable Care Act in a way that could preclude women in life-threatening situations from receiving an abortion.
“Anti-choice politicians have gone from redefining rape to denying abortion care to women who will die without it,” NARAL president Nancy Keenan said in a statement. “When it comes to attacking women’s freedom and privacy, these politicians know no bounds. This debate is just getting started. Any member of Congress who has signed his or her name to this agenda must be held accountable for such extreme attacks against women’s reproductive-health services.”
Politico reported Thursday that Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the sponsor of the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act,” would drop the controversial language that effectively redefines rape to exclude various nonviolent instances by terming the modified concept “forcible rape.”
“The word forcible will be replaced with the original language from the Hyde Amendment,” Smith’s spokesman Jeff Sagnip told the paper. A GOP aide was befuddled by the language itself. “Such a removal would be a good idea, since last I checked, rape by definition is non-consensual,” the aide told Politico.
Smith’s spokesman did not immediately return Raw Story’s request for comment.
The revelation that the anti-abortion bill would redefine rape, first broken by Nick Baumann of Mother Jones, earned scathing criticisms from women’s groups and a mocking skit Wednesday night from Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), the vice chair of the DNC and an outspoken voice on women’s issues, told Raw Story that the bill amounted to “a violent act against women.”