House Republicans drop controversial 'forcible rape' language
February 3rd, 2011
01:46 PM ET
12 years ago

House Republicans drop controversial 'forcible rape' language

Washington (CNN) - Averting what would inevitably be a charged debate on the issue of rape, House Republicans Thursday dropped language from a new bill that allows for taxpayer-funded abortions only if a 'forcible rape' has occurred, a spokesperson for Rep. Chris Smith, the bill's sponsor, tells CNN.

The term 'forcible rape' as opposed to 'rape' set off a firestorm among many Democrats, who charged Republicans were attempting to roll back the long-standing federal law that allows for access of federal funds for abortion in the event of rape - without any qualifiers.

The bill – which was authored by Smith, R-New Jersey, and has more than 170 co-sponsors, seeks to expand the prohibitions of federal assistance of abortion by disallowing the use of health savings accounts to pay for the procedure or the use of tax credits and/or deductions for medical bills that relate to abortions.

But the most contested part of the bill quickly became the language that allowed for exemptions of these provisions – namely if a "forcible rape" had occurred, which opponents say is a vague definition at best and a veiled attempt to role back abortion rights at worst.
"Some kind" of rape is NOT okay. It's simple," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, wrote in a statement earlier this week. "Rape is when a woman doesn't consent to have sex, and that is whether she is conscious, unconscious, mentally stable, or not mentally stable."
The new language will now state the prohibitions on federal funding "shall not apply to an abortion if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest" - the same language as the current law.

- CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report

Filed under: Congress • House Republicans
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    It is understandable why genetically impoverished [R]s would be so touchy on the issue of abortion. They should send their patient mothers a double bouquet of flowers this Mother's Day.

    February 3, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. Republicans = Fascists

    These republicans didn't run on social issues except for repealing healthcare and jobs. They think they're going to outlaw abortion. Let's make this clear to you self loathing wannabee Christians, you are not going to deny a woman's right to choose! Now back to what you campaigned on: WHERE ARE THE JOBS????

    February 3, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    There doesn't need to be an adjective for rape since it is considered a violent act. The violence implies force wheather it be physical force or mental coercion.

    February 3, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I know this article isn't about John McCain but someone needs to tell John McCain to STFU and stay out of Middle East affairs, he's proven not worthy to serve on the Foreign Affairs committee. Every crisis McCain feels the U.S. should be "heavy handed" and thank God Americans were smart enough not to put this old man in office along with that bimbo. The World is changing and McCain doesn't understand you don't just jump in as we did in the Vietnam and Iraq war, even I understand these matters must be handled with careful precision and not wreckless words.

    February 3, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  5. vic nashville tn

    Its look like republicans start to listen Jon Stewart
    9/11 responders now this

    February 3, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. Realistic

    Republicans are sick.......

    February 3, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. Sgt Schultz

    Don't Tread on Me Republicans with your wingnut extremist agenda. Stop the Culture Wars already and stop imposing your activist agenda on the nation. You have the nerve to accuse the Dem's of tyranny for offering healthcare...then turn around and pick your busy-body greasy paws on our lives. Stay out of my house already and get a life.

    February 3, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. Indie Woman in Denver

    Leave it to the anti-choice crowd to try, yet again, to change the law of the land on abortion. Fortunately, the Dems were up to the challenge, and quickly spread the word so we could stop the effort in its tracks. Gotta love the social media!

    February 3, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. michaelam

    Any woman who would ever vote for a GOP candidate is just down right CRAZY! Oh wait, the women that make up the GOP are downright CRAZY!

    Regardless, thank you GOP, for pulling your heads out of your culos and doing something admirable for once! Now, where are the jobs????? The American people have spoken and they want jobs! Jobs, jobs, jobs!

    February 3, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. Protect and Defend Freedom of Speech in the USA

    So all a woman has to do to get a federally funded abortion is to say she was raped? Does a police report have to be filed? Probably not. So it sure doesn't sound like there is much of a safe guard against federally funded abortions.

    February 3, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. MPeters

    The bill is still unacceptable because it forbids people from buying health insurance if any part of that insurance plan covers abortion.

    For smaller government advocates, they sure as heck love to tell me what I can and can't buy.

    February 3, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  12. KBR

    What really gets me about abortion philosophy is that the most sited reasons, Health of the mother, rape and incest, are the cause of very few abortions. Almost all of them are simply post sex birth control.

    February 3, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. Name

    GOP should be ashamed of them self.
    Rape Is rape.
    They need to focus on jobs

    February 3, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    In this economic state, with two wars still going, and parts of the world in crisis, why is the GOP focusing on making changes to abortion laws? what does that have to do with anything?

    February 3, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  15. janetlaw

    Does anyone who voted for these horrible people regret their decision? How dare these officials "decide" what is best for women. I am appalled that they went as far as to try to discuss what kind of rape is okay and what kind is not. Disgusting.

    February 3, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. Larry

    I would like a list published of all congressmen who think abortion should not even be allowed in cases of rape or incest.

    February 3, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. OneMoreTime

    Every day, thanks to Ticker, we get a little more incite into how the Republicans think. This is a pathetic, hysterical group
    of people who give no rational thought to what they are doing. They just throw it out there, and hope somebody will
    agree with them. Too many times they have said hateful things, only later apologizing "if they offended anyone", which
    they knew they would, but did not care. Now we see the same stupid language seeping into legislation that makes no
    sense. Rep. Schultz is absolutely right, if no consent, it is rape which is forcible. Glad they re-grouped, but why did they
    think of this wording in the first place? No common sense here, just commonplace rhetoric.

    February 3, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. Eric

    GOP: "Inebriated rape is a-okay, the chick shouldn't have been drinking the roofy laced drink in the first place. No force was needed."

    February 3, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Ronnie Rayz

    Great group the GOP, they say no to a public option, no to price controls, tout health savings accounts for your medical care (what a crock 1 day ANY hospital would more then wipe out YEARS of $3k max deposits (duhhh) & now want to ban people from using their oWN HAS for an Abortion? Great belief in that people can control their own $, control their own health care, & IT'S STILL LEGAL? Next no $ for a drug rehab from HSA, that darn dope is illegal my friend.....perhaps when Bohner's granddaughter or Demint's gets poked by the wrong dude they might see it another way. (What's Dubya thinking about it w/Jenna's pro-Gay marraige tout???) Hmmmmmm

    February 3, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. Katie

    I'm waiting for the republican legislation requiring women to wear burkas, it can't be far behind.

    February 3, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  21. Pretzel Logic

    As opposed to consensual rape? Is there a screwdriver big and durable enough to tighten the loose screws that make up the GOP?

    February 3, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. johnRJ08

    They need to drop the entire bill. It's a farce. The "forcible rape" wording wasn't even the worst part of the bill. The worst part is that it would prevent any privately purchased insurance policy from covering an abortion if that insurance company was receiving a subsidy of any kind from the federal government. Virtually all insurance companies get some kind of subsidy, so the Republicans are trying to create a situation where insurance companies will simply discontinue coverage of abortion, regardless of the cause of the pregnancy. This is a dishonest piece of legislation that strikes at the very heart of a woman's right to choose a medical procedure which has been ruled legal by the SCOTUS.

    February 3, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. Robert Cloosdoosch

    and this is helping the jobs situation how?

    February 3, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. Laverne

    They should have never used that language in the first place because it suggest that it has to be a certain kind of rape when rape is rape simple and plain. The republicans don't have any kind of common decentcy at all. Maybe the next time a woman finds herself in a rape situation, she should yell "wait, I'm a republican" and maybe they will stop, I DON'T THINK SO!

    February 3, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  25. texasnewbie

    Only the Republicans would try to redefine rape in order to advance their anti-women agenda. I am so glad this disgusting idea has been defeated. I don't care what your opinion on abortion is.... here's a perfect example of why women need to vote for women's rights first and foremost every election.

    February 3, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
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