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House Republicans Want to Redefine Rape

House Republicans have introduced HR 3, the”No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” But, you say, we’ve denied taxpayer funding for decades under the so-called Hyde Amendment. But that has always had an exception for rape and incest.  HR 3 would dramatically narrow the former:

‘SEC. 309. TREATMENT OF ABORTIONS RELATED TO RAPE, INCEST, OR PRESERVING THE LIFE OF THE MOTHER.
‘The limitations established in sections 301, 302, 303, and 304 shall not apply to an abortion–
‘(1) if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest; or
‘(2) in the case where the pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the pregnant female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.

As MoJo’s Nick Baumann explains, “This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion.”

Steve Benen calls this “odious.”  John Cole goes further:  ”[T]his makes the GOP objectively pro-rape, to borrow some warblogger terminology from years gone by. That’s right, ladies- the only way you are allowed any say in a pregnancy resulting from rape is if the rapist roughed you up a bit. Otherwise, the fetus rules.”

While I’m rather queasy about the whole thing, but am not convinced it’s as bad as all that.

First, as Benen acknowledges, this is simply a sop to the social conservative base.  It has zero chance of being passed into law, given that it’s not going to make it through the Senate, much less with enough votes to secure an override of President Obama’s inevitable veto.

Second, the rape exception was never logical but rather a concession to an emotional issue.  That is, if one believes a fetus at a given stage of development is a human life worthy of protection by law, the events leading to the pregnancy are irrelevant.  We don’t, after all, countenance the murder of post-birth children conceived pursuant to rape. But the idea that a woman should be forced to bear the emotional trauma of carrying a constant reminder of a violent, awful crime for nine months — and then be forced to either look at the child every day or bear the alternative trauma of giving up the baby — is just so emotionally wrenching that we’ve carved out an exception.  The fact that rape cases account for an infinitesimal fraction of abortions in this country also helps.

But does this really hold in the case of a statutory rape which, despite the name, frequently isn’t really a rape at all?   Again, this is a queasy subject.   We can all agree that a 9-year-old lacks the emotional maturity to give meaningful consent to sex with an adult and that an adult who violates a child is a rapist.   But we’ve raised the bar on childhood in recent years, extending it well into puberty. Within living memory, it was common, at least in rural areas, for girls to marry and start having children in early puberty.  Generally, with men significantly older than they were. Now, though, most states make it a crime for a 19-year-old to have consensual sex with their 16-year-old girlfriend.

Is a pregnancy arising from that circumstance really comparable to one arising from being jumped in a dark ally by a stranger and violated under threat of death?  Really?

But here’s the thing:  the sponsors of this bill aren’t proposing that we do away with statutory rape laws.  Indeed, they’re in common cause with those who made and enforce those laws. So, they’re in the bizarre position of both supporting the criminalization of teenage sex and yet arguing that the girl who the law says lacks maturity to consent to sex nonetheless has the maturity to have a child arising from said sex.

Furthermore, they’re undermining their own case here.   Abortion is already legal under most circumstances in America, a position that’s not going to change.  And government funding for abortion has been withheld almost as long; that’s also not going to change.    So, why attempt to move the bar ever-so-slightly in a direction that most Americans — including your core supporters — are going to find uncomfortable?   Especially when you know damned well that you can’t actually succeed?

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    “So, why attempt to move the bar ever-so-slightly in a direction that most Americans — including your core supporters — are going to find uncomfortable?”

    You already answered that earlier…

    “…this is simply a sop to the social conservative base.”

    They already know that there aren’t many things they can do to please their social conservative base, so they’re left with throwing little crumbs that, in the end, probably won’t satisfy anyone…

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  2. Axel Edgren says:

    Comment in violation of site policies deleted.

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  3. wr says:

    What a shock to discover, yet again, that a Libertarian believes taxation is a terrible infringement of his freedom, but has no problem with the government taking control of a woman’s body against her will It’s one thing Libertarians have in common with the founding fathers — they all believe in freedom for men.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @wr:

    First, the fundamental tenant of my brand of libertarianism is the Harm Principle. Given how early in the gestation process the fetus develops a human brain, sentience, pain awareness, and so forth, it’s hardly a violation of libertarian principles to say that society has a duty to protect it.

    Second, I’m making an intellectual argument here about the “rape exception” and how it should be logically interpreted. In doing so, I both reject this change to the law and defend it from its most extreme counter-arguments.

    Third, my view on what the law should be on the matter is that we’re pretty close to balancing competing interests right now. That is: abortion is easily available early and very difficult to obtain, absent exigent circumstances, upon viability. And taxpayers aren’t forced to pay for it.

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  5. Gustopher says:

    “And taxpayers aren’t forced to pay for it.”

    First, there are all sorts of things that our government does that I find grossly immoral, and don’t want my tax dollars funding, so why carve out an exception for this? I don’t want to fund torture, or drones flying around Afghanistan blowing up spots where militants might be (but might not). I’d be happy with a checkbox on my taxes, like the Presidential campaign funding — “Check here to designate $3 of your return for torture”.

    Second, this bill would go from stopping direct taxpayer funding, to interfering with a company’s decision on what insurance to offer their employees — they get a tax break if they go with a plan that offers no abortion coverage, but no tax break if they go with a plan that does. People would be unable to use money from their HSAs to fund their own abortions. It’s a legal medical procedure, and this is using the tax system to coerce.

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  6. Axel Edgren says:

    “Given how early in the gestation process the fetus develops a human brain, sentience, pain awareness, and so forth, it’s hardly a violation of libertarian principles to say that society has a duty to protect it.”

    Yeah, when is this? That’s your job to find out. I *know* the women are human beings. Wanting to decide when the bolus of cells becomes a human shifts the onus on to you.

    “Third, my view on what the law should be on the matter is that we’re pretty close to balancing competing interests right now.”

    Except one side is more stupid and evil. I think it is revolting that people complain about having to pay for abortions just because they don’t think it is moral. That’s not how nations work – cults, maybe. Taxpayers should be forced to fund abortions, and it should be possible to get one without parental consent in every state. Only a Christian nation could be so immoral and crude as to fnd any of this controversial. If you set a strict limit on how much gestation is allowed, you should stop complaining and help the girls who really need to have an abortion. Abortions need to be more accesible.

    Also, the democrats should propose a bill that sends more money to family planning, sex education and the like *every time* an abortionist or a clinic is threatened or harassed by overty anti-abortion zealots.

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  7. Axel Edgren says:

    “It’s a legal medical procedure, and this is using the tax system to coerce.”

    The republicans proposing this are all Christians. They answer to a “higher call” than that of serving their country.

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  8. mantis says:

    Given how early in the gestation process the fetus develops a human brain, sentience, pain awareness, and so forth, it’s hardly a violation of libertarian principles to say that society has a duty to protect it.

    Could you please list those givens as you understand them? When in the gestation process do you think a fetus gains sentience? How about pain?

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  9. Nikki says:

    James, I’m confused. You say that, since the fetus develops so quickly in the womb, “it’s hardly a violation of libertarian principles to say that society has a duty to protect it.” Doesn’t that duty to protect extend beyond the womb? If not, why not?

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  10. michael reynolds says:

    This really is despicable. And it bothers me a lot to see you rationalizing it, James.

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  11. Tlaloc says:

    they’re doing it for the wrong reasons (of course) but deconvoluting rape and statutory rape would be a good thing. A sexual relation ship between an adult and a consenting minor (consenting here meaning willing not legal consent which we arbitrarily decided cannot happen before some age x) may be worth criminalizing but it is a VERY different thing than holding a knife at somebody’s throat. It’s a very different thing even than the use of a date rape drug. Treating them similarly is simply wrong. Particularly when you consider the sexual predator laws that mean a person once found guilty is condemned for a lifetime of being labeled a predator (with no gradation given to the nature of the crime), resulting in the real potential for harassment, violence, and the inability to work. For the rest of their lives.

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  12. James Joyner says:

    @michael: “This really is despicable.”

    What about it is despicable? Absurd, okay. A waste of time, without a doubt. But we’ve agreed for decades that taxpayers shouldn’t have to fund abortions. So what’s “despicable” about narrowing a narrow exception to cases that actually inspired the exception?

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  13. PJ says:

    The fact that it won’t pass isn’t a mitigating factor.

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  14. Stan says:

    This is a lousy bunch of donkey kickers, but we voted for their lies in record numbers

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  15. mantis says:

    James,

    My question above was serious. My opinion on abortion is based on similar factors, and I’m curious what data you base yours on.

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  16. Axel Edgren says:

    “But we’ve agreed for decades that taxpayers shouldn’t have to fund abortions. So what’s “despicable” about narrowing a narrow exception to cases that actually inspired the exception?”

    “We’ve agreed that we should base our decisions and society on a false and evil premise, so what is so bad about continuing down this Christianist road?”

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  17. Stan says:

    I’m not the Stan who made the remark above, but I think I agree with it.

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  18. michael reynolds says:

    We can all agree that a 9-year-old lacks the emotional maturity to give meaningful consent to sex with an adult and that an adult who violates a child is a rapist. But we’ve raised the bar on childhood in recent years, extending it well into puberty. Within living memory, it was common, at least in rural areas, for girls to marry and start having children in early puberty. Generally, with men significantly older than they were. Now, though, most states make it a crime for a 19-year-old to have consensual sex with their 16-year-old girlfriend.

    That’s a pitiful attempt to reframe the issue as being either 9 year old raped by father, or two kids just having some fun. There are a lot of variations in between. Do you mean to imply that a 15 year-old is capable of giving consent to her father, for example? What about in cases where the violence is implicit, in an abusive situation that doesn’t involve direct physical attack?

    The fact that the law is unlikely to pass does not render it any less heinous. The intention remains heinous, whatever the odds of success. Are we supposed to give a free pass to your party for only wanting to belittle rape within the family as opposed to actually managing to make a law of it? What if Democrats introduced a law calling for white men in Virginia to be rounded up and forcibly sterilized? Unlikely to pass, yes, but still evidence of a diseased philosophy.

    The reason for the rape exception is to ease the consciences of Republican hypocrites who know damned well that they’d ignore the law if it ever got in their way, but like to impose it on others in order to make themselves feel the warm glow of virtue.

    If your daughter was raped, James, you’d move past your pro-life situation in about ten seconds and leap, hurl, catapult yourself across the aisle to the pro-choice side. You would do whatever it took to spare your daughter the trauma that you and your party would impose on those too poor to protect themselves.

    Your need for a sense of moral superiority — backed by your ability to simply ignore the law if it suits you — is not a suitable basis for legislation. And your party has no business creating a tiered structure of rape that denigrates victims because they didn’t manage to be badly enough bruised.

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  19. James Joyner says:

    @Mantis: The brain’s developing pretty nicely by about 5 weeks. Pain receptors by around 8 weeks. By the end of the 1st trimester, it’s pretty much formed.

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  20. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: The incest exception is still fully intact in case of minors. Indeed, it’s in the same sentence that narrows the rape exception to cases of “forcible rape.”

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  21. mantis says:

    The brain’s developing pretty nicely by about 5 weeks.

    What does that mean? Nicely? At five weeks a human embryo barely has the beginnings of a notochord. The neural tube likely hasn’t even closed yet. There is no functioning brain, only the very beginning of what will develop into a brain.

    Pain receptors by around 8 weeks.

    Where did you get this info? Nociceptors take a lot longer to develop, and even if they didn’t there is no pain without working thalamic connections, which don’t form until around 30 weeks into gestation.

    By the end of the 1st trimester, it’s pretty much formed.

    What is? The brain? Not even close.

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  22. michael reynolds says:

    James:

    Sorry, that’s my bad.

    But it doesn’t help much. Rape by authority figures — priests, cops, etc…. — often appears as non-violent. Ditto rape in situations where there’s an expectation of violence — a gang member, a person known to have a history of violence.

    Again, make it personal. Your daughter’s home is broken into. The man is twice her size and weight. He shows her his fists and says, “Either do what I say or I’ll beat you so badly your own father won’t recognize you.”

    What do you advise your daughter to do then? If she submits do you want the Republican party poo-poohing it as a lesser form of rape?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. James Joyner says:

    Michael:

    I read this as an attempt to only exempt what Whoopi Goldberg would call a rape-rape. Stranger forcing you to have sex is rape, in the minds of anyone, regardless of whether actual violence occurs. Ditto, cases where someone drugs the victim in order to have sex. If the House Republicans are trying to stop these cases from counting, I categorically denounce them.

    I’m interpreting this through my own lens. We’ve defined “rape” down in recent years. At the one extreme is the Julian Assange case, where a “No” is issued mid-coitus. Somewhere in the middle are cases where both parties were drunk. These aren’t the same thing as violent rape.

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  24. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:
    ” Stranger forcing you to have sex is rape, in the minds of anyone, regardless of whether actual violence occurs. Ditto, cases where someone drugs the victim in order to have sex.”

    From the bill:

    “if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest;”

    The word forcible is in the bill. When the victim is drugged, or is taken advantage of because she (or he) is already unconscious, there isn’t any need for force.

    (BTW, FBI in their rape statistics only count violent rapes.)

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  25. James Joyner says:

    @PJ: Again, I’m applying my own lens to the plain meaning. If the bill excludes coercive rape because there’s no actual violence, then I deplore it.

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  26. Tlaloc says:

    “He shows her his fists and says, “Either do what I say or I’ll beat you so badly your own father won’t recognize you.””

    MR- that’s pretty obviously forcible rape. It’s making a threat of violence if they don’t comply.

    That’s a very different thing than say, we agreed to have sex but we were in state x where the age of consent is y and she (or he) is age y-1.

    It’s also a very different thing than sex forced on an unconscious person. That’s not to say that said sex shouldn’t be criminalized, I think we can probably all agree that “date rape” drugs should damn well be illegal to use against someone who hasn’t knowingly agreed to their use, but it’s still a different thing than holding a knife to someone’s throat.

    And those are different things again from a case where one party thought consent was given and the other party didn’t, either at the time or later without making it explicit.

    There are a lot of different issues here and simply sweeping them all under one heading, and a especially under a word as emotionally charged as “rape” is a bad thing.

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  27. PJ says:

    Is having sex with an unconscious (for instance drugged, drunk, or sleeping) person coercive rape? The victim can’t give consent. What if the victim put herself/himself in a position of unconsciousness? Is sex without given consent rape?

    The bill is despicable.

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  28. george says:

    Horrible bill. And I’d guess the only reason they’re putting it forward is because they know there’s no way it will be passed – they can turn to a small set of supporters and say ‘see, we tried’, and then turn to all those against it and say ‘it never passed, so why bring it up?’.

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  29. PD Shaw says:

    I read this in the context of Jessica Valenti’s recent complaint in the WaPo that American rape law is retrograde because it’s premised on force. She and others want rape to be expanded to take into consideration theories of contract; changes in consent, sex under false pretenses, etc.

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  30. PD Shaw says:

    Giving someone a drug to get them to have sex with you against their will is “forcible rape” under the FBI definitions used for Uniform Crime Reporting.

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/frequently-asked-questions/ucr_faqs_incspec

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  31. PJ says:

    @PD Shaw:

    “Giving someone a drug to get them to have sex with you against their will is “forcible rape” under the FBI definitions used for Uniform Crime Reporting.”

    Hopefully.

    “Against her will” includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity (or because of her youth). The ability of the victim to give consent must be a professional determination by the law enforcement agency.”

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  32. PD Shaw says:

    The link gives this as an example of an attempt to commit forcible rape:

    “The following scenarios illustrate incidents known to law enforcement that reporting agencies must classify as Attempts to Commit Forcible Rape 2(b):

    . . .

    “At a local bar, a man slipped gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), a date rape drug, into a woman’s drink. However, the man was unable to lure the woman away from her friends. Investigators concluded that the man intended to have intercourse with the woman and arrested him.”

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  33. michael reynolds says:

    Laws against rape are state laws typically, so we’ll get a lot of inconsistency in definition.

    It’s not at all obvious whether this would affect rape by threat, or incest with a kid over the age of consent, or rape by rohypnol.

    What is clear is that this is typical ham-handed, smug, hypocritical, moralistic crap from the GOP looking to score points with their yahoo wing. Every time you start getting into the nitty gritty of abortion you reach the same conclusion: this should be between a woman and her doctor and the GOP should butt the hell out and stop trying to score political points.

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  34. matt says:

    I’m disappointed to see that James did not respond to Mantis :(

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  35. anjin-san says:

    Gotta love the GOP. We have the deficit, unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, no interest from our kids in becoming engineers, so on and so on.

    So lets focus on making life a little harder for rape victims. (maybe they really wanted it anyway)

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  36. Jay Tea says:

    I see this as the entirely-predictable pushback from years of the pro-choice side advancing their side, incrementally, through weasel-wording and other dishonest games. They first carved out an exception for “live of the mother,” which most anyone would agree with. Then they pushed “health of the mother,” and that made sense. Then they pushed for “mental health” or “emotional health” of the mother, which boiled down to “she will feel bad if she doesn’t get an abortion,” which would have gutted any restrictions whatsoever.

    So the other side is pushing back. One theory would be to head off the bogus rape claims by women who want a federally-funded abortion and make up a rape. As noted above, “forcible” has been interpreted in other circumstances to mean “either against the will of or without the free consent of the victim,” so the threats of force and use of drugs would qualify.

    Personally, I’d like to see Roe v. Wade overturned (it’s one of the shittiest-reasoned decisions ever to come down from the Supreme Court; at least Dred Scott was based on the principle of property rights) and the whole mess dumped back on the several states. Let the legislatures fight it out, and let the citizenry have its say directly through their elected representatives. There is absolutely no rationale for making the matter a federal concern.

    J.

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  37. Jay Tea says:

    anjin, it wasn’t that long ago when Congress’ most pressing concerns were cap & trade, a health care “reform” package that would essentially nationalize one-sixth of the economy, and stripping workers of the secret ballot — while the economy was pretty much as bad as it is now.

    It’s disappointing, but hardly unique to either side.

    J.

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  38. An Interested Party says:

    Arguments could be made that Cap and Trade (transitioning to green jobs), HCR (hardly nationalizing health care as claimed by partisans, but argued by its supporters as trying to do something about spiraling health care costs that are definitely part of the economy), and Card check (argued by its supporters as a way to help workers better compete in the economy) are all related in some way to the economy…the subject of this post, though, has absolutely nothing to do with the economy…

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  39. anjin-san says:

    > while the economy was pretty much as bad as it is now.

    Yea. Two years in with Obama, the GDP is now back up to where it was before Captain Bush took the Titanic into the iceberg. So tell us again how bad Obama has been for the economy. But first I want you to tally up how many hundreds of billions in cash American corporations that were near failure as Obama took office now have in the till.

    Anyway the “nationalize one-sixth of the economy” thing shows you, once again, to be a ignorant third rate spewer of Fox talking points.

    Run along sonny.

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  40. anjin-san says:

    Jay, don’t try to make pleasant chatter with me. You are the crap I scrape off my shoe before I come in the house. When I was talking about my relative in a mental hospital, you called me a liar. Well, actually, you were not really man enough to do that, you just sort of inferred it in a cowardly way. I notice you never got around to producing any of the posts you claim I made which would lead you to think I am dishonest when I asked you to put up or shut up, Big shock there.

    In case you are not clear on what I think of you, see above.

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  41. Sirkowski says:

    I wouldn’t expect anything less from these Jesus loving sociopaths.

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  42. G.A.Phillips says:

    I think that abortion is completely evil, but then again so is rape and even worse raping and impregnating a child.

    I would like to see abortion outlawed, but when you bring up rare cases like this, man, it is truly a whole different subject.

    I guess I would have to put it into my mind as such.

    A very sad situation. And one that should be dealt with without politics.

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  43. anjin-san says:

    Pretty good post G.A. :)

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  44. michael reynolds says:

    I will be goddamned, that was a coherent and thoughtful remark, GA. Kudos.

    Yeah, everything about abortion sucks and is sad and complicated. I wish we could just all move on to seeing it as something like addiction, or divorce, or end-of-life choices, that is just too personal and complicated to be amenable to government intervention.

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  45. James Joyner says:

    Michael:

    Of course, we actually have government intervention in all those things. They’re all wrenchingly personal and my preference would be to leave them to individual choice as much as possible. I don’t see why it’s society’s business if somebody medicate themselves into a stupor, decides they can’t stand their partner, or hurts too damn much to keep on living. But we do intervene on the margins, protecting others who might be harmed by those choices (in the case of the first two) or preventing others from imposing those choices on a helpless individual (in the case of the last).

    We’ve stumbled into a more-or-less reasonable compromise on abortion, largely eliminating it once the fetus is viable — around 23 weeks — and leaving it more-or-less up to the mother before that. Thankfully, most abortions are much, much earlier than that. Thankfully, too, we’ve improved contraception, both in terms of effectiveness and range of choices, and even have “morning after pills” which can terminate pregnancies so early in the process as to render the debate moot.

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  46. Axel Edgren says:

    “I think that abortion is completely evil”

    Stop thinking.

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  47. michael reynolds says:

    James:

    I agree, we have a functional compromise. Parts that make you uncomfortable and likewise with me which is the inevitable nature of compromise.

    House Republicans violated the compromise, and did it in a ham-fisted way. My guess is that it’s just the start of much more to come. It’s a myth that Tea Party people aren’t social conservatives. Just like it’s a myth that they are fiscally conservative in any way that actually relates to reality. They remain what they seemed from the start to be: incoherent, angry white people whose real beef is with the relative decline of their cohort.

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  48. Loviatar says:

    See James has done it again.

    Taken an idea from the crazies in his party, which prior to today was considered a non-starter and through his rationalization and faux compromise statements he’s now mainstreamed it to the point where is has become – a 47 comment – discussion item.

    As I’ve said before he has his part to play and he plays it well.

    P.S.

    Notice the “only an intellectual argument” and “this resolution will never happen” comments at the beginning to throw you off his plan.

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  49. michael reynolds says:

    Loviatar:

    Most of us know all that. And most of us are playing games of our own.

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  50. James Joyner says:

    Lovitar:

    It’s actually more simple than that: I can entertain arguments in isolation on their own merits. Basically, this struck me as an argument about the evolving nature of our rape laws moreso than one about abortion.

    It’s a non-starter as a legislative initiative and doesn’t even make sense within the framework of those proposing it.

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  51. Rick Almeida says:

    I, also, would very much like to see James respond to Mantis.

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  52. James Joyner says:

    Rick: I responded to Mantis.

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  53. mantis says:

    Rick: I responded to Mantis.

    With a bunch of incorrect information, which I then responded to. That’s probably what they are referring to.

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  54. Rick Almeida says:

    “That’s probably what they are referring to.”

    Indeed. Specifically, a consideration of this (http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/house-republicans-want-to-redefine-rape/#comment-1364012) reply.

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  55. James Joyner says:

    @mantis and @Rick: Ah, sorry, missed that in the rapid overlap of posts. Looks like I’m confusing gestation and pregnancy, so my weeks are off slightly:

    The NIH National Library of Medicine:

    Weeks 4 to 5 of gestation; week 6 – 7 of pregnancy . . . The brain develops into five areas and some cranial nerves are visible.

    Mayo clinic:

    Week 7: Baby’s head develops – Seven weeks into your pregnancy, or five weeks after conception, your baby’s brain and face are rapidly developing. Tiny nostrils become visible, and the eye lenses begin to form. The arm buds that sprouted last week now take on the shape of paddles.

    I’m not claiming they’re doing algebra at this point, merely that their brains are well underway.

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  56. Rick Almeida says:

    Thanks for the reply, James. It’s probably fair to say I don’t conceptualize “well underway” the way that you do here, but I appreciate your taking the time & for the linked info.

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  57. James Joyner says:

    Rick,

    Sure thing. Frankly, going through the process humanizes it, too. The docs call it a “baby” even in the first month and it looks like a tiny baby pretty early on the ultrasounds. Granted, it’s not viable until 23 weeks or so but it’s moving around and otherwise acting like a little person well before that.

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  58. matt says:

    “and otherwise acting like a little person well before that.”

    If by acting like a little person you mean random movement on par with what a corpse will/can do then yeah…

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  59. Sam says:

    “But does this really hold in the case of a statutory rape which, despite the name, frequently isn’t really a rape at all.”

    This sums up the Republican and misogynist positions perfectly. Let’s just pretend away the principle behind statutory rape by redefining the English language. War frequently isn’t really war. Night frequently isn’t really night. And frequently rape, even if the perp gets five years, isn’t really rape. Somewhere in France, Roman Polanski must be dancing a jig.

    Shouldn’t an argument be made honestly, with no bizarre redefinitions, or not at all?

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  60. mantis says:

    Let’s just pretend away the principle behind statutory rape by redefining the English language.

    There are people (ok, let’s be honest, men) in prison for statutory rape for having sex with a girlfriend less than two years younger, because she was a minor and her parents called the cops. Is consensual sex between a 16 year old and her 18 year old boyfriend really the same thing as forcing someone against their will?

    It’s not a redefinition of the English language. It’s the truth. Sometimes statutory rape is rape only according to the statute, and not in the eyes of any rational observer. Sometimes.

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  61. [...] he admits to being “rather queasy about the whole thing,” Outside the Beltway’s James Joyner wonders if this proposed bill is really as bad as everyone thinks. He suggests that the rape [...]

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  62. [...] (James Joyner):  I agree with Dodd and Johnson on this interpretation. My 28 February post “House Republicans Want to Redefine Rape,” which focused entirely on statutory rape cases involving truly consensual sex between a [...]

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  63. [...] James Joyner and Dodd Harris have written about the controversy that has erupted over the wording of the bill [...]

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  64. Raavequeen says:

    Most rape isn’t “being jumped in an alley by a stranger”- it’s committed by a friend, acquaintance, etc. This misconception and the resulting attitude are just a few of the reasons why it’s hard to have a real discussion about rape.

    Get that image out of your head. It’s insulting, it’s Hollywood. It has a real world affect on rape victims. Have you ever met a rape victim who insists what happened to them wasn’t “real” rape because it didn’t involve a gun or a dark alley or a stranger? Sadly, I have. More than a few. It makes it harder to seek help, it changes the way people look at the situation. Not to mention it shows your ignorance- that’s one of the first myths about rape you’ll see destroyed on a good feminist website.

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