Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Redefining Rape?

Think "no" means "no"?

Well, 173 members of Congress don't.

A far-reaching anti-choice bill, introduced by Republican Chris Smith and supported by 173 members of the House, includes a provision that could redefine rape and set women's rights back by decades.1

Right now, federal dollars can't be used for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman's life is in danger.

But according to the New York Times, the Smith bill would narrow that use to "cases of 'forcible' rape but not statutory or coerced rape."2 This could mean cases where women are "drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes" would no longer count as rape.3

As far too many women know, bruises and broken bones do not define rape—a lack of consent does. The Smith bill is scary. And with 173 supporters it already has a frightening chance of passage—unless the public speaks up right away with an outcry that can't be ignored.

Can you sign the petition to Congress today, demanding they oppose the sexist, anti-choice Smith bill?

The petition says: "Bruises and broken bones do not define rape—a lack of consent does. Stand up and oppose the dangerous GOP legislation to redefine rape."

Federal funds are already severely restricted when it comes to reproductive rights and women's health care, a situation that ends up hurting lower-income women in particular, who tend to use federally-funded services more often than wealthy women. The last thing we ought to be doing is legislating to make these laws more stringent.

In addition, the Smith bill is full of dangerous anti-choice provisions as well as the rape redefinition. Called "Stupak on Steroids" by NARAL Pro-Choice America in reference to Rep. Bart Stupak's failed attempt to push stringent restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion during the health care debate, it would "force millions of American families to pay more taxes if their health plan covers abortion care, jeopardizing abortion coverage in the private market."4

The Smith bill is just the first of many attacks on women's rights to come in the new GOP-controlled House.5 If it moves forward, it would set an incredibly dangerous precedent for GOP action in the House for the next two years.

Can you sign the petition asking Congress to denounce the Smith bill to redefine rape? Click here:


Thanks for all you do.

–Kat, Eli, Milan, Carrie, and the rest of the team


1. "The House GOP's Plan to Redefine Rape," Mother Jones, January 28, 2011

"Stupak on Steroids," The Hill, January 25, 2011

2. "The Two Abortion Wars: A Highly Intrusive Federal Bill," New York Times, January 29, 2011

3. "The House GOP's Plan to Redefine Rape," Mother Jones, January 28, 2011

"Stupak on Steroids," The Hill, January 25, 2011

5. Ibid.

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