You may have heard that one of the first acts of the new year for House Republicans was the filing of yet another anti-choice measure, HR 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The ostensible purpose of the bill is to prohibit the use of public funds for abortion even more than they are already prohibited; if it were to make it though Congress, it would impose expensive and discriminatory restrictions on women who opt to have an abortion.
HR7 would raise taxes for women who exercise their legal right to have an abortion by eliminating medical-expense deductions for the procedure, although rape victims or those whose pregnancies are life-threatening would be, in line with the Hyde Amendment, granted an exemption from this provision. They would, however, have to prove their situation, resulting in the potential for a bizarre IRS “rape audit” that has organizations like NARAL quite justifiably all worked up.
Apart from constituting an intrusion into the privacy of one class of individuals, proving that one has grounds for such an exemption could be difficult. Rape, for instance, can be hard to prove in a court of law. In an environment in which actual standards for what constitutes rape or “life-threatening” conditions are not firmly delineated, it could be an horrific experience. As Think Progress notes:
We already live in a world in which navigating insurance coverage for abortion is so complicated that many women simply assume their insurer won’t pay for it, and end up financing the entire cost out-of-pocket. And we already live in a world in which victims of sexual assault are forced to prove the validity of their experiences to a skeptical society that doubts they’re telling the truth. We certainly live in a world that’s enacted nearly as many barriers to abortion access as humanly possible. Abortion restrictions that assume that some women’s reasons for terminating a pregnancy are somehow more valid than others exploits all of these dynamics. HR 7 fits neatly into this worldview – but it’s a continuation of a trend, rather than a brand-new outrage.
The entire Missouri Republican House delegation with the exception of Sam Graves (R-6) are listed as co-sponsors of HR7. This fact in itself is not surprising. However, I suggest that you keep it in mind when you hear reports about efforts to fix what one GOP strategist terms the “dire disconnect between the Republican Party and female voters.” In particular, I’m thinking about efforts to give Republican officialdom a young female face in order to shift the – accurate – perception that the party skews disproportionately older and male. The newly launched RightNOW Women PAC, for instance, marks one such effort to create a visible female presence in the GOP. The Facebook announcement of the PAC’s launch party gets right to that point:
Were you disappointed with the turnout of women (and the women’s vote) in the last several elections? So were we! That’s why some amazing women got together to launch the RightNOW Women’s PAC. We are building a grassroots network of women, especially young professionals under 40, focused on raising awareness and money for qualified Republican women candidates for federal office.
Read this and consider that Missouri has sent two Republican women to the House. But both the women in our Missouri delegation, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-4) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-2), have shown that they are only too willing to support a repressive GOP agenda that far too often targets women, most recently by co-sponsoring HR7. Their gender alone won’t help make the sales that brokers like the RightNOW Women PAC hope to make by putting more women in front of the cameras. It isn’t sufficient to prove that if you look under enough rocks you’ll find some young(ish) female GOP life as long as those females choose to associate themselves with loons like Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who has suggested that HR7 will be good for making money:
“I would suggest that it is very much the case that those of us in the majority support this legislation because it is the morally right thing to do but it is also very very true that having a growing population and having new children brought into the world is not harmful to job creation,” he said. “It very much promotes job creation for all the care and services and so on that need to be provided by a lot of people to raise children.”
That’s right. Keep’em barefoot and pregnant and we’ll be on the road to prosperity. Just look at all those third-world countries where nobody can afford birth control, not to mention safe medical abortions. Just what every woman wants.