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The GOP to teenage girls: Why aren’t you giving birth?

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, May 3, 2011 12:40 EDT
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They're Coming for Roe from Center for Reproductive Rights on Vimeo.

Check out this video; some of the statements coming out of the mouths of these straight white dudes who are so opposed to women having rights will make your jaw drop.

The fuss over HR3 flared up and died a couple of months ago, and it was mainly focused on the fact that the GOP legislators who wrote it tried to erase the rape exception for federal funding for abortions, narrowing it down to "forcible rape", a move that would define rape in such a way as to eliminate something like 85% of rape cases.  Of course, the entire bill itself is atrocious, since  it's an attempt to ban any insurance funding whatsoever for abortion, and I suspect their next move will be to make it illegal for women to use any transportation—including roads—subsidized by taxpayers to get to the clinic to have abortions.  (I'm only half kidding.) 

Well, the vote on HR3 is tomorrow, and while the GOP claimed they were going to take the "forcible rape" language out, lookee here, they found a way to put it back in:

The backdoor reintroduction of the statutory rape change relies on the use of a committee report, a document that congressional committees produce outlining what they intend a piece of legislation to do. If there's ever a court fight about the interpretation of a law—and when it comes to a subject as contentious as abortion rights, there almost always is—judges will look to the committee report as evidence of congressional intent, and use it to decide what the law actually means.

 

In this case, the committee report for H.R. 3 says that the bill will "not allow the Federal Government to subsidize abortions in cases of statutory rape." The bill itself doesn't say anything like that, but if a court decides that legislators intended to exclude statutory rape-related abortions from eligibility for Medicaid funding, then that will be the effect.

This is all a little confusing, so let me break it down: They've written an addendum to the bill that clarifies that the one group they will absolutely not be letting have abortion under any circumstances are teenage girls that have been exploited by grown men.  Said grown men can still go to jail, but the girls themselves will not be allowed to have their abortions funded, no matter how coercive the sex was. 

The GOP really wants teenage girls to have babies.  The "if she bleeds, she breeds" defense of this report was in full force:

Why would Republicans try to sneak in this language? A look at the history of H.R. 3 provides some potential answers. Both Richard Doerflinger of the US Council of Catholic Bishops and the NRLC's Johnson, arguably the two most influential anti-abortion lobbyists on Capitol Hill, have offered the same explanation for why the "forcible rape" language was originally introduced: Johnson said it was intended to fend off a "brazen effort," by abortion rights groups to exploit the rape exception in Hyde. Abortion rights groups were, in Johnson's words, planning to "federally fund the abortion of tens of thousands of healthy babies of healthy moms, based solely on the age of their mothers." Doerflinger argued in congressional testimony that the language was "an effort on the part of the sponsors to prevent the opening of a very broad loophole for federally funded abortions for any teenager."

In other words, because teenage girls physically can have babies, they should be having babies, otherwise known as the "grass on the field" defense of statutory rape.  You or I may look at teenage girls and see young women who have their whole lives ahead of them.  We see these girls as people with minds and hearts that should be nurtured and allowed to flourish.  We see these girls and see so much potential: the valuable work they may do, the educations they may receive, the choices they may make in adulthood to better make a happy home with the kind of family that works for them, and their future hobbies and intellectual goals.

The GOP looks at teenage girls and sees a bunch of healthy uteruses being shamelessly unused. Think of all the babies you could be having if you started at 12 or 13!  My god, the average age American women have their first baby is 25, meaning that a solid 12-15 years they could be making babies is just wasted.  But the GOP is working hard to make sure that's not true going forward, both in making it much harder for teenagers to get abortions and in shutting down Planned Parenthood, so that teenagers can't get contraception either.  If this trend continues, I imagine the GOP will be demanding that we ban tampon companies from making this "Your First Period" videos that schools use for sex education, and instead require that schools distribute baby blankets along with anti-choice propaganda instead.  Perhaps they can roll back Title IX and redirect all the money going to girl's athletics to mandatory classes in diaper-changing and how to pick the best Bible stories for your growing brood's entertainment.  Every time you get a period, ladies, remember that you're failing Jesus.

But this conservative loathing for teenage girls is just indicative of the larger principle at stake here, which is an all-out assault on women that is concentrated on the most vulnerable.  If you're poor or young, they really have it out for you.  If you're both poor and young, they will go out of their way to make sure you're giving birth against your will.  I'm somewhat surprised they didn't find even more vulnerabilities they could exploit.  Maybe the next bill will be a ban on wheelchair ramps at family planning clinics or something.

So, here's some steps you can take, since the vote is tomorrow. You can go to A Huge Step Back and hit the Take Action! button and follow instructions to write your congressperson.  Or, since this will also have to go to the Senate, you can contact your Senator here and let them know that you cannot support politicians who don't support women's rights. Folks are also trying to warm the #dearjohn Twitter feed up again; if you join in, make sure to ping the Twitter account of John Boehner or of your representative. 

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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