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House Republicans spent a lot of time and taxpayer dollars pushing the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill that sought to redefine “rape” to “forcible rape” as one of three limited circumstances when abortion was acceptable. It’s a bill that Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan was especially fond of because it’s a fundraising double whammy: cutting federal spending and restricting abortion access.
And in the Protect Life Act, a bill that would have amended the Affordable Care Act to prevent federal payment to health plans that include abortion coverage, Republicans again tried to narrow the categories of acceptable abortion procedures from one in cases of rape to ones in cases of “forced rape.”
It’s a truth U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin spoke on the floor of the Democratic National Convention. Moore, a rape survivor, is a tireless advocate for women’s rights. She said: “No victim of domestic violence or bullying — man or woman — should feel unprotected in America. Yet when Democrats acted to strengthen the Violence Against Women Act, Republicans in the House moved to weaken it. In other legislation, they have even tried to change the definition of rape.”
But, according to Politifact, these things didn’t really happen, and Rep. Moore’s statements are “mostly false” because she didn’t explain why Republicans were trying to change the legal definition of rape in these statutes.
Moore said House Republicans “tried to change the definition of rape.”
Her statement contains an element of truth, in that GOP members sought to change when federal money for abortions could be used in cases of rape, by using the term “forcible rape.”
But the claim ignores critical facts that would give a different impression — the House Republicans’ effort was not to change the definition of rape, per se, but rather to restrict the use of federal funds in abortions.
Precision of language is important, but Moore’s statements were not misleading because they failed to connect every dot for her listener–the underline sentiment and motivation was accurately articulated. Republicans wanted to change the definition of rape in the context of when a woman can access a full range of medical care in connection with that rape.
And doesn’t this just seem to be the perfect expression of rape culture? Rep. Moore, a woman of color and victim of sexual violence dismissed for speaking the truth on the conservative assault on women. PolitiFact’s take on Moore’s statement and the quibble with the circumstances under which anyone would want to exclude care for victims of statutory rape, date rape, and cases when a woman couldn’t provide sufficient evidence she fought back convincingly enough is just the kind of reinforcement conservative ideologues were looking for and just the kind of perpetuation of misogyny women don’t.
Photo from tacit requiem via flickr.
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