Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Dear GOP: Rape is Rape. No Force Needed.

Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and 173 co-sponsors introduced a heinous bill, "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act."

It goes further than any other previous legislative proposal to make abortion less accessible, less available, especially to low income women. Jessica Arons from the Center for American Progress presents a comprehensive review of what's so wrong with this legislation at

There are so many reasons to oppose this bill, but it's the provision that redefines rape that has me the most upset. For decades now, there has been an agreement even by the most anti-choice legislators that poor women who become pregnant because of rape or incest should have access to abortion services.

Rep. Smith and his friends have now decided that only women who are victims of "force-able rape" would be "worthy" of being able to have an abortion. Not women who were coerced, not women who are minors and victims of statutory rapes, not women who were drugged -- just those who are forced.

This issue isn't just political to me, it's personal. I was date raped twice as a young woman. There were no guns or knives --just men who didn't listen as I yelled "no" and went ahead anyway. Back in the mid 70's, there wasn't a term for date rape; in fact, I had several older women at the time tell me that there wasn't anything to be done, it just happened some time to women who were alone with men who didn't listen. I was fortunate that I didn't become pregnant either time -- and I've been happy that on today's high school and college campuses young people are routinely taught about date rape and that "no means no."

And so, I am furious that Rep. Smith has decided that once again it's not rape unless there's force involved. I'd like the GOP to listen to those of us who are survivors who will tell them that the only definition of rape is sex without consent of both partners - no adjectives involved.


Unknown said...

How is it not force when one person's body literally violates another person's body? I can't make sense of this.

WomanistNTProf said...

And when the only issue is consent, it is usually the woman who has to prove that she did not consent. Here, again we have men (the usual perpetrators of such crimes) deciding for women. And children who are assaulted and/or raped by people they know--fathers, step-fathers, brothers, etc. -- cannot consent and should not be subject to such a yardstick.

Desmond Ravenstone said...

Smith attempted to make all sorts of complex distinctions and exceptions, but ultimately he just does not get it. Physical force or violence is not what defines rape. Lack of consent is the defining factor.

Then again, he doesn't see a problem with compelling a woman to carry a pregnancy to term, regardless of whether she consents or is even able to.