The GOP Tries to Redefine Rape Exemptions—Again

Mother Jones

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The House debated and passed a bill on Tuesday that would ban all abortions after 20 weeks across the country. The bill, passed by a nearly party-line vote of 228 to 196, replicates laws passed in a dozen states in the past three years limiting the time period during which women can obtain a legal abortion.

HR 1797, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), is not expected to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate, and President Barack Obama has already threatened to veto it. But it does contain a provision that redefines rape exemptions, significantly limiting the number of women who would qualify. In order to obtain an abortion after 20 weeks under this law, a woman who was raped must be able to prove that she reported the rape to authorities—a requirement not present in other rape exceptions to federal abortion laws.

Republicans added this provision to the bill, which originally included no exceptions for rape or incest, after the House Judiciary committee approved it last week. But the alternative language Republicans inserted creates its own problems. It is more restrictive than the Hyde Amendment, the law barring federal funds from being used to pay for abortions. Hyde specifically exempts cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake—with no requirement that women have documentation from police that they reported the crime.

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The GOP Tries to Redefine Rape Exemptions—Again

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