The GOP’s Choice – Jobs or Redefine Rape

29 01 2011

I woke up to shoveling-induced back pain and the melodious tones of the snoring shiba inu at the end of my bed, so I grabbed my eReader and got on the internet – because why have the ability to go on the internet without having to walk to the computer if you aren’t going to use it, right – and found that somebody had tweeted this article from motherjones.comHouse GOP’s Plan to Redefine Rape. It has to do with changing the current rules about allowing taxpayer money to go toward abortions in extreme cases – when the life of the mother is at stake, incest, and rape. It seems that Republicans feel being impregnated by having had sex against her will is no longer a good enough reason for a woman not to be made to birth her rapist’s baby if she would require federally allotted funds in order to obtain an abortion. In short rape doesn’t really mean rape when you’re on Medicaid. What?! I read it and had to vent about it somewhere. Aren’t you all lucky?

First of all, I would be remiss if I didn’t do a little research. The article linked to the full text of the bill available on opencongress.org and so did I, just so you know I’m not making this stuff up. The bill is not very long and surprisingly easy to understand. This is not a misinterpretation of legalese by a woman with a BA in theater and media arts. Section 309 reads as follows, though the underlining was added by me -

‘SEC. 309. TREATMENT OF ABORTIONS RELATED TO RAPE, INCEST, OR PRESERVING THE LIFE OF THE MOTHER.

‘The limitations established in sections 301, 302, 303, and 304 shall not apply to an abortion-

‘(1) If the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of and act of forcible rape, or, if a minor, an act of incest; or

‘(2) in the case where the pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the pregnant female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.

See, I told you it’s pretty clear, except for one thing – what is forcible rape? I looked up the definition of rape and this is it, according to dictionary.com. Again, the underlining and italics were all my idea.

rape1  [reyp] noun, verb, raped, rap·ing.

NOUN 

1. an act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.
2. the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.
3. statutory rape.
4. an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation;violation: the rape of the countryside.
5. Archaic . the act of seizing and carrying off by force.
VERB (used with object)
6. to force to have sexual intercourse.
7. to plunder (a place); despoil.
8. to seize, take, or carry off by force.
VERB (used without object)
9. to commit rape.

With force being part of what defines rape in general, what kind of conditions are being set here? After years of preaching that “no means no”, might we be undercutting that message now. If you don’t think that a savvy attorney would try their best to use the denial of federal funding to terminate the victim’s pregnancy as a tool in their defense, I think you are sorely mistaken. And what constitutes forcible anyway? A physical struggle? How much? Do those who were drugged and raped have to have the baby unless they can afford to pay for an abortion out-of-pocket? What about someone who is mentally impaired? What about a statutory rape? If a 13-year-old is impregnated by a 22-year-old should she be made to bear the child if she or her parents don’t have the money? What if the rape victim was threatened or otherwise coerced into not fighting back? Is that forcible enough or do there have to be physical scars? I think this type of hair-splitting could set us on a course back to the days when there was a type of woman who could be raped – the “good girls” who didn’t party hard, dressed modestly, etc… – and those who could never possibly be raped because they behaved and dressed in a manner that was “asking for it”. News flash – nobody ever asks to be raped. If a woman drinks and/or takes some drugs, it means they’re using drugs or drinking. They aren’t asking to be raped. If a woman has a sexual history, it means they’re not a virgin. They aren’t asking to be raped. If a woman wears something provocative, it means they want to look sexy. They aren’t asking to be raped. After all the time and energy we have devoted to the message of not blaming the victim, whoever she is and whatever her lifestyle, for the actions of her attacker, we may be headed right back there. As if this wasn’t disgusting enough, there’s the other thing in the bill that I underlined. A victim of incest – yes, incest – is only eligible for a federally funded abortion if she is under the legal age of consent. Do we really want to put the victim seeking an abortion on the grounds of incest through anything more than she’s already been through. How the hell was she “asking for it”? Whoever thought we needed alter the definitions of rape and incest as part of our healthcare policy is a really particular kind of ideologue – the creepy kind. In both situations, this proposal would punish individuals who are victims of a crime – a point that is never disputed – for not being victimized enough. That’s just twisted. By the way, this bill has 173 cosponsors. If they get a few more supporters, this could pass the House of Representatives.

The issue also has a socioeconomic angle to it. The bill itself has been proposed not to stop all abortions in these cases, but those in which taxpayer money would be used. Taxpayer money as it stands now is mainly Medicaid, which pays for medical care for those who otherwise can’t afford it. Our tax dollars will also be used for the soon-to-be-created insurance exchange where a person can purchase coverage at a reduced rate. So even if a victim purchased insurance with her own money through this healthcare exchange, her policy would not be allowed to cover an abortion because the rate she paid was subsidized by the government unless she met these new guidelines. If not she would have to pay for the procedure out-of-pocket and the poorer the victim, the less likely she would be to have the money.

Speaking of money, this is supposed to be the congress that was elected to get America’s economy rolling again and get jobs creation up. That was the message that many of these conservative Republicans got in there on. Fine. Whatever. Elections have consequences, but this is what happens when people vote against a politician or administration rather than for a candidate’s platform. Well, surprise! This was an extremely successful bait-and-switch by social conservatives. Their third item of business has not a bit to do with jobs or fiscal responsibility and everything to do with the social conservative vision of what everyone’s morals and life should be. It is not what they campaigned on and there is something disingenuous about trying to start pricing women out of their right to choose (which is still protected by the Supreme Court) before tackling a budget, or the national debt, or most of the other stuff they promised to work on as soon as they got to DC. Furthermore, The Hyde Amendment, the “rider” attached to annual appropriations bills since 1976 which limits the use of federal money for abortion funding to instances of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother, while not a permanent law has worked pretty well as a compromise thus far. Many, including myself, have issues with it, but compared to this mess, it’s definitely the lesser of two evils. At least it doesn’t get all nit-picky about incest. While I am all but certain the Senate will vote down HR 3 (that’s what this bill is called – House Resolution 3) if they go near it at all, it is clearly a sign of things to come.

There’s a follow-up post here and a follow-up to the follow-up here.





One More Day ‘Till It’s Over

1 11 2010

Am I the only one who is tired of the endless election cycle this country seems to be caught in? I remember when there used to be actual news reported on “the news” – you know, stories about people, places and events that are in no way connected to voting. Ah, those were the Good Ol’ Days! Now we’ll get a few weeks to recover and then the airwaves will be filled with who is or isn’t running for president. It’s maddening and I can’t help but wonder what we aren’t hearing about thanks to all this election coverage, speculation, pontificating, and general crappola. What are we missing? A lot, I’ll bet, but honestly, would you rather be knowledgable about the world or the Tea Party candidates chances of “taking the country back”. I’m not sure where they plan to take us to, by the way, but they’d like to take us somewhere.

My own predictions? Yes, the Democrats looks like they are about to get monumentally spanked. Yes, they will most likely lose the House of Representatives and the presumptive new Speaker of the House is John Boehner – the Man with the Tan. If they don’t take the Senate it will be very close. Angle will beat Reid in Nevada and O’Donnell will get pwned by Coons in Delaware and prove that just saying you hate DC and liberals and Obama and masturbation isn’t enough to get you elected – you still need at least an ounce of qualification. As for my state, I think Blumenthal will pull out a win, but I doubt that we’ll give up our 20 year love affair with Republican governors – a love affair that I don’t think has been good for us, but hey, what do I know?

I would be lying if I said that I was anxious to vote, or that I thought I would make a difference or anything else like that. I’m apathetic at best and totally unmoved by my choices. There isn’t even a candidate running that I am all that pleased to be voting against. I’m voting because about a month ago I wrote a post about how people shouldn’t complain about the outcome of elections they don’t bother voting in and I know that it will be impossible

for me to not fuss if we end up with two Republican senators misrepresenting my interests. In my opinion, if you campaign for a Republican, you are one. Someone just hasn’t told Joe Lieberman that yet. So I have to vote because otherwise I will be a hypocrite, which would be bad enough, but I know people who read this blog and when I see them they will call me out on not voting. So I will leave my home and go and vote – I’ll even vote for one of those two fools running for governor – in an effort to avoid hypocrisy.

I think that this election will be blown out of proportion by everyone. Democrats will ring their hands and cry “Woe are we” when everyone knows we work best under a bit of pressure. Plus when legislation eventually gets bogged down and fails, the Republicans will have some failures to deal with instead of just a list of things they don’t like. They will now have a stake in the outcome of things and that is a good thing. While the Democrats are “woe”ing, the Republicans will be crowing about how fabulous they are and how they are the voice of everything patriotic and they will ratchet up the anti-Democrat/Obama rhetoric. I won’t be surprised if we hear rumblings about finding a reason to impeach the President and everyone in his cabinet before Christmas. They will have forgotten that the only thing the public at large usually dislikes more than a sore loser in a sore winner.

And then there will be the Tea Party-ers and the pundits who love them. They will decree that this one election proves that the nation as a whole a ready to be “Tea Party-ized” back to simpler times. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there were never “simpler times”. As much as we love to romanticize our history, people have always been the same. Their motives have not always been admirable. Their actions have sometimes been less than noble. Sometimes we were right as a nation and sometimes we weren’t. Also, most if not all of the issues we view as “modern-day”  have always been there in one form or another and have always been contentious. They won’t be disappearing any time soon and they aren’t as easily solved as some might think. Not everyone desires a return to the financial and social climate of the 1890′s or the 1950′s and even if everyone did, you can’t go backwards. The past can always be learned from, but never recreated. So, while I do think the tea party people will have gotten a few of their own into positions of power, I think they are in for a rude awakening as far as how much of their platforms they will actually be able to implement which doesn’t break my heart.

I could be wrong about all of this. Hate my predictions? Well, go vote and maybe something else will happen. Even if you are as apathetic as I am, go out and vote so you can complain about it later.





Why Vote?

6 10 2010

Last night, for the second night in a row, in the name of being an informed citizen, I subjected myself to the debates for our state election. The night before it was the senatorial debate which was conducted mostly in that great New England style of intense hatred concealed by well-mannered smiles. Fangs were bared occasionally and then the gentility returned. Last night’s gubernatorial debate was a grudge match, a slug-fest with mics and three-piece suits and without the chair-throwing. I lost count of how many times the two called each other liars without actually saying the word “liar”. It was an annoying, tedious display which makes me wish there were another option out there. I was left with one question bouncing around my mind – with two candidates who I doubt could successfully figure out the way to the restroom, let alone how to sort out the state’s economy, why bother voting? I figured others might be faced with the same thought, so here’s my two cents.

Plenty of people can give good, solid reasons for voting. Some will talk about your patriotic duty as a freedom-loving American. Some can really get going, invoking the images of the service men and women currently deployed in harm’s way, the founding fathers, Abraham Lincoln, God, your mother, apple pie, Uncle Sam, and “Old Glory” to a point where you start looking for a large, robed choir to stand in rows, sway gently from side to side, and start humming the Battle Hymn of the Republic while a bald eagle flies overhead. Others will carry on about getting your message heard, taking a stand, and making DC hear your voice raised loud and proud about <insert volatile issue here>. After a good dose of that, you’re starting to think about marching around outside your town hall carrying a sign with your particular grievance aired on one side and “Fight the Power” emblazoned on the other. Well, while all of that stuff is important, I’m just not that intense. Perhaps I’m suffering from a deficit of patriotism or an overabundance of apathy, but the reason that’s drving me to haul my sorry carcass down to my local polling place, get in the little cubicle thing, and fill out a ballot is a little more pragmatic and a little less theatrical.

It is my personal belief that, if you choose not to vote, you have automatically forfeited your right to bitch about the outcome of that election. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people going on and on about what a terrible person Senator “X” or Representative “Y” is – they’re lairs, they’re criminals, they’re the child of Satan – and then, when somebody asks them who they voted for since their so upset, it turns out they didn’t vote at all. Usually there’s no good reason why they didn’t – just pure, unadulterated laziness. I hate that. I’m left wondering where all their passion was on election day and, even if their arguments for why the political figure in question should be incarcerated are perfectly valid – this is Connecticut after all – it all turns to noise pollution as far as I’m concerned when the complainer admits they never bothered to vote against their current nemesis. It’s hypocritical bull funky, I tell you! So, if you want the ability to firmly plant your forehead against your palm and bemoan the sheer idiocy of your elected officials, get thee to a polling place come November 2nd.

America, please, either get out and vote, or shut the hell up!

Thank you.





Life Is a Series of Decisions (Bla, Bla, Bla-Di-Bla…)

17 05 2010

Ok, first a recap.


-I turned twenty-five on the fifth – in other words, youth, as it pertains to yours truly, is the stuff of history and perhaps a legend or two. I hope to hit myth status by thirty.


-I’ve been drafted as a mosaic artist to work alongside my grumpy, republican father. To be fair he’s a lot less grumpy when we aren’t discussing politics. I’d say it would make great sitcom fodder but it’s already been done… a lot.


-I’m still looking for work and it still sucks. Happily, my father’s irritation at having a grown, unemployed lump of humanity inhabiting an entire floor of his home whose only achievement of late is not killing off the tomatoes and strawberries she and her mother planted has cooled a little though things can gets heated when the FOX News folks start talking about unemployment as it relates to the economy. I think he’d like to see the able-bodied unemployed put into giant hamster wheel and made to run, powering a generator able to generate half the nation’s electricity until we learn the art of “making things happen.” Well, that or strip us of our citizenship and send us on a one-way trip to Europe. Actually, I’ve always dreamed of living in Italy. Warm Mediterranean sunshine, good food, soccer – no – football, one of the most melodious languages in the world, and let’s not forget the men.


-Daria – the best TV show ever – has been released on DVD. It’s only been off the air for eight years. Glad they were so prompt about it. Let’s hear it for the show that helped get people like me feeling OK with being themselves… to the chagrin of the rest of the world. In addition to the “Glass Ceiling” Project and some impromptu tiling, I have a new quest – obtain the DVD set and revel in the snark. (UPDATE – I bought this boxset. It’s great!)


-The World Cup starts June 11th and, unless there’s a change in my employment status, I will be a complete soccer nut for the entire month-long event. ITALIA!

Now to the substantive issue of the day – how badly do I want to see my Congresswoman re-elected? Badly enough to actively participate in the political process? I’m actually not sure. I like Rosa DeLauro. I’ve met her several times – some before I was able to vote – and she didn’t dismiss me because I wasn’t either a baby or a possible supporter. She heard out my child self and, as much as I hate to admit that I fell for the oldest trick in the political book, I have to say, it stuck with me. From a practical standpoint, I share her point of view on many issues. I think hers is a good voice to have in Congress. Also, I’m seeing more – and by “more” I mean more than one – of those Teaparty flags around the neighborhood and, while I don’t see Connecticut’s third district as a hotbed of hardcore conservatism, it might be time for me to enter the fray as a sort of counterbalance.
I also just happen to enjoy politics. Sometimes it’s interesting, sometimes it’s amusement coupled with a healthy dose of schadenfreude, and sometimes, rarely, something really meaningful that betters people’s lives is accomplished. Sounds like a done deals right? Not If you’re me. As much as the political process fascinates me, there is also an element I find unpalatable. I sometimes wonder if we as a nation have outgrown integrity and ethics in general. Usually I laugh at it as I did here but I don’t know how close I want to get to the system itself even though I like the product. I like sopressata, but I wouldn’t want to make it, especially without compensation. Then again, it’s only posters and phone calls, right. It’s not like I’m trying to be the next Hillary Clinton.

I’ll add pics and such later, but I’m finally tired. I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately and I’m now like a zombie. I have no idea whether this post makes sense or not at this point. I’ll fix whatever’s most certainly wrong with it when I regain consciousness in several hours. (Obviously, I got around to updating.)

UPDATE – I sent in my info to volunteer. Yes, I do care enough to try to get involved. I find myself caring more and more. Now it’s time to wait and see. It would be a new personal low to be rejected as a volunteer.








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