Merriam-Webster defines rape as “unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will of a female or with a person below a certain age or incapable of valid consent."
I think we can pretty much all agree with that definition, or its shorter version: rape is sexual intercourse without consent. “Without consent” means that the woman has in some way said no -- whether it’s verbal, physical, or simply by being unable to give consent.
And we can certainly all agree that all forms of rape are illegal.
Now, House Republicans want to change all that.
Using an abortion bill -- the easiest place to play with the rape definition -- Republicans are trying to limit who can receive federal assistance for abortions. Let’s just put aside the whole abortion/Medicaid thing. Forget their obscene attempts to limit our rights as women. That’s one battle that has always existed and will always exist.
This redefinition of rape is much more insidious, much more dangerous to us as women, children, even young men. The language Republicans have included in the bill doesn’t just limit the Medicaid assistance available to abortion patients, it expressly redefines forcible rape. Their definition of rape now excludes:
- Instances where women are drugged and raped
- Instances where women say “no” but do not physically fight off their aggressor
- Various cases of date rape
- Instances of statutory rape where minors are impregnated by an adult
I’m thoroughly ashamed that anyone could even think to redefine rape in such a brazen way. Passage of this bill into law virtually assures more difficulty in prosecuting rape cases like the ones outlined above. And yes, I’ll admit, I’ve gotten used to the threat that I may have certain choices taken from me -- but I cannot assent to this most basic of human rights being stolen from me just because a bunch of Republicans have a hard-on for controlling the abortion debate.
What do you think of the redefinition of rape?
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