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The GOP’s 10 Most Extreme Attacks On A Woman’s Right To Choose An Abortion

The GOP’s 10 Most Extreme Attacks On A Woman’s Right To Choose An Abortion
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Written by Tanya Somanander

2011 marked a banner year in the Republican war on woman’s health. Close to 1,000 anti-abortion bills sped through state legislatures as the GOP-led House led a “comprehensive and radical assault” on a federal level. But in surveying their arsenal this year, 10 bills stood out as particularly perturbing and far-reaching efforts to stymie women’s access to abortion services, birth control, and vital health services like breast cancer screenings. Here are ThinkProgress’s nominations for the most extreme attacks on a woman’s right to choose:

Redefining Rape: Last May, every House Republican and 16 anti-choice Democrats passed H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act. Anti-choice activists Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) tried to narrow the definition of rape to “forcible rape,” which meant that women who say no but do not physically fight off the assault; women who are drugged or verbally threatened and raped; and minors impregnated by adults would not qualify for the rape and incest exception in the Hyde Amendment. Smith promised to remove the language but used “a sly legislative maneuver” that essentially informs the courts that statutory rape cases will not be covered by Medicaid should the law pass and be challenged in court.

Abortion Audits: The No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act also bans using tax credits or deductions to pay for abortions or insurance. Thus, a woman who used such a benefit would have to prove, if audited, that her abortion “fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.” This requirement turns the Internal Revenue Service into “abortion cops” who, agents noted, would have to force women to give “contemporaneous written documentation” that it was “incest, or rape, or [her] life was in danger” which made an abortion necessary.

Let Women Die: This October, House Republicans also passed the “Protect Life Act”, known by women’s health advocates as the “Let Women Die” bill. The measure allows hospitals that receive federal funds to reject any woman in need of an abortion procedure, even if it is necessary to save her life. Though federal law already prohibits federal funding of abortions, the GOP insisted that the health care law “contains a loophole that allows those receiving federal subsidies to use the money to enroll in health care plans that allow abortion services.”

Personhood: Mississippi entertained the idea of passing a “personhood” amendment to its constitution this year, one that defines a person as “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.” The measure’s “profoundly ambiguous” language regarding the definition of fertilization not only would ban all abortions, it could potentially outlaw birth control, stem cell research, and in vitro fertilization for couples struggling to conceive. Mississippians rejected the amendment but personhood activists are making headway with versions for other states and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is championing a national personhood amendment.

Race/Sex Abortions: Taking their queue from Arizona, House Republicans introduced the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) — a so-called “civil rights” bill that bans physicians from performing abortions based on the fetus’s race or sex. The problem of selective abortion is virtually non-existent, as not one state official or independent research offered any evidence of race-based abortions. Only 5 percent of abortions occur after the point when a fetus’s sex can be determined. Arizona’s measure, now law, sends doctors and clinicians to jail for three years if they knowingly provide such abortions. The federal bill PRENDA allows for civil suits against the physicians.

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52 comments

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1:42AM PDT on Mar 30, 2012

Dear Laura,

further to my previous message: I would not care about women if I did not care about abortion. If you follow your choice to choose, that is a matter for your conscience - that may not be my business, but it is certainly God's business.

Ashley

1:39AM PDT on Mar 30, 2012

Dear Laura, thanks for your message.

Respectfully, I was born in '59, not yesterday, I am well and truly aware that women do not self-pollinate or germinate. If all men were legally sterilized then where would be the next generation of National Insurance or taxpayers? Who would look after you or I in our old age? Whose taxes would pay for elderly persons allowances? That has been precisely what has happened when we look at the lost generations since 1967 when abortion was legalised in the UK: us workers have to pay extra in taxes, etc., owing to those foetuses who were not allowed to live.

Respectfully, if a woman chooses to sleep with a man she must face the possible consequences. I am proud of my celibacy that I would only give up were I to marry. Were I of a different mind and I chose to sleep with a girl I would have to face the consequences. The choice to have a resultant abortion becomes a form of control by the man over the woman. Yet the woman has the right to say 'no'.

It takes 'two to tango' as they say. I trust my position is clearer.

Ashley

6:17PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

I will gladly give up my right to choose as soon as all men are legally required to be sterilized. people do not get pregnant alone, we do not self fertilize/pollinate.

6:07AM PST on Jan 30, 2012

'Womens rights': what about the rights of the potential women (ie female foetuses) who did not choose to be born? When are we going to hear more about celibacy, that does not need birth control, neither does it carry the risk of an unwanted child ..

Ashley

5:13AM PST on Jan 30, 2012

If “pro-lifers” were really about saving babies, and not about controlling every aspect of every woman’s life, “pro-lifers” would be demanding cheap, easily accessed, reliable contraception on demand, because contraception prevents abortions. If “pro-lifers” were really interested in saving babies, we would see them howling when programs like WIC are cut, because one in every four American children suffers from hunger. We would see them storming the gates of Congress, insisting on programs of pre- and post-natal care for those who cannot afford it, because those programs reliably save the lives of babies. We would see them demanding health insurance for the children of parents who cannot afford it—because health insurance saves the lives of babies. We would see them screaming because over a MILLION children in this country are literally homeless—living in cheap motel rooms, in cars, on the street.

But we don’t see any of this. Not one “pro-lifer” has come forward to demand any of these things.

Because it’s not about babies, saving babies, or the lives of babies. It’s all about controlling women, and keeping them “in their place,” one step below your prize breeding cow.

5:10AM PST on Jan 30, 2012

OK women, are we going to go back to the dark ages ? Are we going to be contented cows; subserviant to men again? I THINK NOT! Our foremothers fought the good fight back then and they'll be REALLY MAD if we drop the ball now! I can hear them now, "OOOOOh we're the ghosts of suffragettes past and we're here to tell you to put up a fight to retain women's rights!"

5:01AM PST on Jan 30, 2012

You may respond.

5:01AM PST on Jan 30, 2012

Dear John K,
re. your comment about a woman's right to choose (3.28 pm, December 31st): where do you stand on the potential woman (ie the female foetus) inside the woman?

2:51AM PST on Jan 17, 2012

Like I've said before: If the republicans gain power, then only Rich, White, Straight, Christian MEN will have rights. Everyone else will be slaves to the Rich White MEN.
Vote, and vote like your life depends on it. Because it does.

2:45AM PST on Jan 17, 2012

Well, I skimmed the first few comments just before mine, and I have nothing to add. I share the sentiments of these well-articulated comments.

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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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