GOP’s War on Women: Tea-Publican House passes the ‘Rape Audit Bill’


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Just hours before a joint session of Congress for President Obama's State of the Union Address last night, the Tea-Publican House voted on one of its top legislative priorities for this year: HR 7, which they misleadingly label the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act” (the Hyde Amendment has banned federal funds for abortions since 1976), and that opponents call the "Rape Audit Bill," for justifiable reason.

As I explained in a post earlier this year, House Republicans Are Pushing A Bill That Would Force The IRS To Audit Rape Victims:

TalibanIn addition to preventing low-income women from using their Medicaid coverage to access abortion, the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act,” or HR 7, could also have dramatic implications for the tax code and the private insurance market. One of its most controversial provisions could actually require the Internal Revenue Service to conduct audits of rape victims.

Why? Because HR 7 eliminates medical-expense deductions for abortion care, essentially raising taxes on the women who opt to have an abortion. Like many abortion restrictions, this provision includes an exemption for victims of rape and incest, as well as women who encounter life-threatening complications from their pregnancies. But in order to enforce those exceptions, the IRS would have to verify that the women who are claiming a medical-expense deduction for an abortion fall into one of those three categories, to ensure they’re not committing tax fraud.

Essentially, that would empower the government agency to have the final say over what “counts” as a sexual assault or a life-threatening situation. And that, in turn, would force victims to prove their case.

“Imagine having to recount a sexual assault — a horrifyingly painful, personal experience — to a tax collector,” NARAL Pro-Choice America says in an action alert to its members to encourage them to mobilize against HR 7. “An anti-choice bill in Congress would do just that. It could force sexual assault survivors who access abortion care to prove the assault occurred.”

The House vote was 227 to 188, mainly along party lines. Final Vote. Six Democrats voted yes, only one Republican voted no, and another voted present. There were 15 members of Congress not voting.

The New York Times reports, House Votes to Restrict Payments for Abortions:

The House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to impose tighter restrictions on federal payments for abortions, thrusting the issue of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy into the polarizing politics of an election year.

The bill stands no chance of being passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate. But that mattered little to members of both parties, who seemed to relish the chance to accuse their opponents of blatantly twisting the issue to their political advantage.

* * *

Existing law like the Hyde Amendment already restricts federal financing for abortion services. But because the Hyde Amendment must be renewed every year, Republicans said their proposal would only codify what has been the law of the land.

Though the bill had solid support from the House Republican leaders, their near-unanimity during the vote on Tuesday obscured tensions within the party. Republicans have long sought to restrict abortion rights as a move to satisfy their social conservative base. Just last week, Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, spoke at the March for Life, an annual Washington protest by opponents of legalized abortion.

But the issue has become considerably more challenging for Republicans, both because of comments from Republican men, on and off the campaign trail, and an aggressive effort by Democrats to portray the party as anti-women.

The timing of the vote was telling. Notably, the House leadership chose to bring the measure up on a day when all of Washington was consumed with President Obama’s State of the Union address. Republican leaders also decided to make the bill one of their first orders of business this year, disposing of it nearly 10 months before Election Day. A senior aide to Republican leadership said it would probably be the only time an abortion-related bill would come up this year.

Representative Louise M. Slaughter, Democrat of New York, noted how the current legislation had moved through the House almost exclusively with the votes of Republican men. On the House Judiciary Committee, where the bill was approved two weeks ago, the 22 Republicans are all men. “This has been the problem for a long time: men in blue suits and red ties determining what women should do,” Ms. Slaughter said.

Some Republicans said on Tuesday that they would rather be talking about other things, like jobs, and problems with the Affordable Care Act.

“I’ve always said that we ought to avoid taking on these hot-button social issues; they don’t do us any good,” said Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania. Mr. Dent voted for the abortion bill, but he noted how some of his colleagues were so ill-equipped to talk about women’s health issues that the party leadership has had to advise its members how to approach the topic more delicately.

“Here’s my suggestion for a communications strategy for some of these guys,” Mr. Dent said. “Four words: Shut the bleep up.”

Republicans gave the bill an unremarkable title — the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” — which they said was intended to convey an uncontroversial and popular goal. But Democrats have argued that the act is a deceptive assault on women’s rights that would further restrict coverage for abortion among federal employees, low-income women and those who visit military hospitals overseas, among others.

Steve Benen adds, On policy towards women, a study in contrasts:

Note that while House Republicans tend to avoid passing any bills unrelated to repealing health care reform, this is the second major anti-abortion bill to clear the chamber in this Congress – the House GOP approved a 20-week abortion ban last summer.

And while this new bill – given the designation of H.R. 7 because it’s considered one of the House Republicans’ top legislative priorities of this Congress – won’t become law anytime soon, it reinforces a larger point: the GOP’s war on women cost the party dearly in the 2012 elections, but Republicans haven’t learned a thing.

What have we seen just over the last couple of weeks?

* Republicans have gone after Texas gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis (D) over the details of her personal family history. One Texas Republican eventually conceded, “If this involved a man running for office, none of this would ever come up.”

* Mike Huckabee delivered a bizarre speech to the RNC in which he argued that Democrats believe women require government mandated contraception access because women can’t control their libidos.

* Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argued Hillary Clinton can be criticized for Bill Clinton’s Lewinsky affair 19 years ago because “sometimes it’s hard to separate one from the other.”

* Republican state policymakers continue to push new restrictions on women’s reproductive rights, including a proposed 30-day waiting period in Louisiana.

* Sean Hannity suggested yesterday the creation of an “Adopt-A-Woman Birth Control Program” as an alternative to guaranteeing contraception access in federal health care law.

* Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) wrote a book in which he argued wives should “voluntarily submit” to their husbands.

* Republican Senate hopeful Ken Buck in Colorado explained his opposition to abortion rights by comparing pregnancy to cancer, which is why he doesn’t think a woman should “be in control of her body.”

* Republican congressional hopeful Dick Black in Virginia opposes making spousal rape a crime and has called military rape “as predictable as human nature.”

On the other hand, Republicans chose a woman to deliver their official SOTU response, right?

Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) said this week, “It’s hard for me to phrase this politely. Sometimes Republicans think that just putting a woman up front means somehow that women are going to feel good about the party. It is not about the messenger. It’s about the message. And until we figure that one out, while it’s nice that we have a woman as a spokesperson, if the message itself doesn’t get changed a bit, it’s not going to work.”

Here in Arizona, some of the most extreme Tea-Publican Christian Taliban members are women. "It is not about the messenger. It’s about the message."

UPDATE: Sen. Rand Paul adds another one to the list: Senator Floats Idea To Penalize Low-Income Women Who Have Children: While he said that preventing unplanned pregnancies should be in the hands of communities and families, he added, “Maybe we have to say ‘enough’s enough, you shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount.”‘ He went on to say, “I don’t know how you do all that because then it’s tough to tell a woman with four kids that she’s got a fifth kid we’re not going to give her any more money. But we have to figure out how to get that message through because that is part of the answer.”


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