BRIDGE BRIEFING: Ryan And Forcible Rape

Ryan Co-Sponsored “Forcible Rape” Language With Todd Akin

Ryan Co-Sponsored “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act” With Todd Akin To Narrow Definition Of Rape To “Forcible Rape.” According to the Huffington Post, “Ryan also cosponsored the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’ with Akin in 2011. The GOP tried to narrow the definition of rape as it related to abortions with the measure. Only in instances of ‘forcible rape,’ the bill specified, would a woman be eligible to have her abortion covered under insurance. The sentiment behind the notorious attempt to redefine rape was echoed in Akin’s comment on Sunday.” [Huffington Post, 8/19/12]

In 2009, Ryan Backed “Limitations On Abortion Mandates” Amendment To Prevent Abortion Coverage Under Health Care Legislation Except In Cases Of Risk To Life Of The Mother, “Forcible Rape” Or Incest. According to NBC, “Three years ago, the then-39-year-old congressman co-sponsored an abortion-related amendment called ‘Limitations on Abortion Mandates.’ That proposed amendment was blocked in what was a Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee. Ryan and only one co-sponsor, Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas, proposed a change to health-care legislation that would have required health insurance cover abortion services.  The Ryan-Johnson failed amendment did specify limited exceptions, permitting abortion coverage including when the life of the mother is at stake and in line 16 of the proposed text ‘… unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of forcible rape or incest.’ … The amendment was proposed by and carried the name of a more senior Republican colleague, Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas. Ryan joined Johnson in offering the amendment.” [NBC News, 8/22/12]

Modifying federal rape exceptions with the word “forcible” would be “a huge change” That Would have left many rape victims uncovered

George Washington University Family Law Professor: The Addition Of The Word Forcible To Federal Rape Exceptions Would Be “A Huge Change” Because Despite Statements That Lawmakers Are Not Attempting To Change The Law, A Court Will Read The Language Change Has Having A Purpose. According to Talking Points memo, “The anti-abortion community is defending the controversial abortion funding law in the House from critics by saying that the new language on rape and incest exceptions represent a change in law but not a change in policy. … ‘It is true that the new bills would not allow general federal funding of abortion on all under-age pregnant girls — but this is no change in policy,’ [National Right To Life Center legislative expert Douglas Johnson] told LifeNews. ‘In falsely claiming that it is a change in policy, the pro-abortion advocacy groups really are engaged in a brazen effort greatly expand federal funding for abortion.’ That’s flat wrong, says Dr. Catherine J. Ross, professor of family law at George Washington University. ‘It’s a huge change,’ Ross told TPM today. ‘This is going to have a disproportionate effect on minors.’ ‘Currently, all acknowledged rape — everything that’s defined as rape — is exempted from the Hyde Amendment provisions,’ she added. ‘It’s true some of the proponents say they’re really not trying to change the law, but those unofficial statements of intent, even if credible, are not binding in the courts.’ Put simply, Ross said, a court is likely to read every word in a statute as ‘having a purpose.’ So the change to add ‘forcible rape’ to the federal ban would suggest a different standard for judging rape in the eyes of the federal funding statute. ‘They have to have a reason for making a distinction between ‘forcible rape’ and other rapes,’ she said.” [Talking Points memo, 02/02/11]

Legislation That Would Modify Abortion Exceptions To Include Only Victims Of “Forcible Rape” Would Have Excluded Victims Of Statutory Rape, Adult Incest Victims And Rape Victims Who Did Not Experience Overt Violence. According to The Daily Beast, “In their quest to deny reproductive rights to as many women as possible, Republican congressmen are seeking to narrow the federal government’s definition of rape in order to exclude many victims from abortion coverage. ‘The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,’ or H.R. 3, is ‘one of the most extreme bills that we’ve seen,’ says Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. If enacted, … the bill will send a message to all women that certain kinds of sexual assault don’t count as rape at all. … Under H.R. 3, the only victims of ‘forcible rape’ would qualify for federally funded abortions. Victims of statutory rape—say, a 13-year-old girl impregnated by a 30-year-old man—would be on their own. So would victims of incest if they’re over 18. And while ‘forcible rape’ isn’t defined in the criminal code, the addition of the adjective seems certain to exclude acts of rape that don’t involve overt violence—say, cases where a woman is drugged or has a limited mental capacity. ‘It’s basically putting more restrictions on what was defined historically as rape,’ says Keenan.” [The Daily Beast, 01/31/11]