There has been a lot of talk about rape in the media in the last two years since the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives. Recently, Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin brought an even uglier side of rape to light; that of complete ignorance of exactly what constitutes rape and what the results of rape are or are not. Akin’s appalling lack of education on basic human anatomy has alarmed women because his comments to the press exposed that this man has been drafting (with new Vice Presidential pick Paul Ryan and others in congress) bills that would legislate what a rape victim can and can’t do about her situation from a place of complete ignorance. This has sparked a major debate among voters and panic within the Republican Party who are desperately trying to distance themselves from this member who has, in all fairness, exposed the core beliefs of many lawmakers in congress and that of the GOP itself.
The lay and medical definitions of rape are consistent. Webster’s Dictionary definition of rape (verb) 1. The crime of having sexual intercourse with a woman forcibly and without her consent.
The Medical Dictionary definition of rape: rape (rāp) nonconsensual sexual penetration of an individual, obtained by force or threat, or in cases in which the victim is not capable of consent.
The legal definition gets a little murky as it seems to allow rape within a marriage and rape without apparent violent force. The legal definition of rape from USlegal.com: In all states, if a man forcibly subjects a woman who is not his wife to sexual intercourse without her consent, he has committed the crime of rape. (Not deeming forced intercourse with one’s spouse as rape reeks of religious overtones). Recently, an increasing number of states have passed rape reform laws to define rape to include certain nonconsensual incidents of intercourse without requiring the use of force as well as the rape of one’s spouse. Any sexual intercourse with a child is rape and in most states sexual relations even with consent involving a girl 14 to 18 is “statutory rape,” because of the lack of the child’s capacity to consent. Rape may also be found when a person has sex with a victim who is deemed legally incapable of consenting if she or he is known to be mentally incompetent, intoxicated, or drugged.”
Mitt Romney’s VP pick Paul Ryan, and Todd Akin sought to redefine rape as “forcible” rape; as if there really is any other kind, in a house bill. This led to the subject of abortion which goes hand-in-hand with rape as pointed out below in the statistical data. Forcible Rape – Federal law prevents federal Medicaid funds and similar programs from paying for abortions. Yet the law also contains an exception for women who are raped. The bill Akin and Ryan cosponsored would have narrowed this exception, providing that only pregnancies arising from “forcible rape” may be terminated. According to ThinkProgress.com; “Under H.R. 3, only victims of “forcible rape” would qualify for federally funded abortions. Victims of statutory rape—say, a 13-year-old girl impregnated by a 30-year-old man—would be on their own. So would victims of incest if they’re over 18. And while “forcible rape” isn’t defined in the criminal code, the addition of the adjective seems certain to exclude acts of rape that don’t involve overt violence—say, cases where a woman is drugged or has a limited mental capacity. “It’s basically putting more restrictions on what was defined historically as rape,”
The language of “forcible rape” was removed from the bill after much public outrage and outcry.
Paul Ryan believes that the language of forcible rape doesn’t go far enough to legally force women to carry their rapist’s baby. He believes that abortion should be illegal in all cases except for “cases in which a doctor deems an abortion necessary to save the mother’s life.” The official GOP Party platform for the 2012 presidential campaign goes one step further in denying even that last exception.
With light shining on the subject, Ryan is now saying “Rape is rape, end of story”. Yet his record of anti-abortion bills and his stance as pro-life is extremely consistent showing he will not back down and change his views on this subject unlike the other half of his presidential ticket, Mitt Romney.
Romney has flip-flopped on this issue, claiming to be against abortion in any case to allowing for exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, and endangerment to the mother when running for governor of MA, then saying in a 2007 debate that he would welcome a day where all abortions were outlawed and he would happily sign that bill into law. In an interview as governor, he was asked about vetoing a pro-choice bill and said he had a change of heart and just couldn’t support abortion, period. Today, Romney is telling the nation (once again saying what he knows pro-choicers want to hear) he supports abortion in the cases of rape, incest, and health endangerment, but will he just have a “change of heart” if he gets in to the White House? Has anyone bothered to point out to Romney and Ryan that abortion is already legal? And where does that leave us on the issue of rape? We know Ryan is in favor of forcing further “rape” upon a woman via making her carry her rapist’s child. And we know that Todd Akin seems wholly uneducated in simple biology by his comments to the media. “Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) claimed that “legitimate rape” does not often lead to pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Hey, Todd Akin. Read this. From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov: “The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. Among 34 cases of rape-related pregnancy, the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator. Only 11.7% of these victims received immediate medical attention after the assault, and 47.1% received no medical attention related to the rape. A total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester; 32.2% opted to keep the infant whereas 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had spontaneous abortion. Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency. It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence. As we address the epidemic of unintended pregnancies in the United States, greater attention and effort should be aimed at preventing and identifying unwanted pregnancies that result from sexual victimization”
There are a great many statistics on the subject of rape. It is prevalent, traumatizing, and should never be marginalized as otherwise or legislated beyond the control of the victim by a ruling governing party. The victim already lost control the minute she or he was overpowered and forced to endure this act of violence.
Statistics: Research has found that about 80,000 American children are sexually abused each year. It is estimated that one in six American women has been or will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime. Due to cases of child and prison rape, approximately ten percent of reported rape victims are male.
According to United States Department of Justice document Criminal Victimization in the United States, there were overall 191,670 victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2005. 1 of 6 U.S. women and 1 of 33 U.S. men have experienced an attempted or completed rape. (according to Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault)
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that 91% of rape victims are female and 9% are male, and 99% of rapists are male From 2000–2005, 59% of rapes were not reported to law enforcement. One factor relating to this is the misconception that most rapes are committed by strangers. In reality, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 38% of victims were raped by a friend or acquaintance, 28% by “an intimate” and 7% by another relative, and 26% were committed by a stranger to the victim. About four out of ten sexual assaults take place at the victim’s own home. According to a statistical average over the past 5 years, about 60% of all rapes or sexual assaults in the United States are never reported to the authorities.
The shame associated with being raped, and the societal trend of blaming the victim leads many women to never reporting rape.
Recent actions by the House have further victimized the raped by pushing hard to overturn the legality of abortion. “On October 2, 2003, with a vote of 281-142, the House again approved a measure banning the procedure, called the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Through this legislation, a doctor could face up to two years in prison and face civil lawsuits for performing such an abortion. A woman who undergoes the procedure cannot be prosecuted under the measure. The measure contains an exemption to allow the procedure if the woman’s life is threatened. On October 21, 2003, the United States Senate passed the same bill by a vote of 64-34, with a number of Democrats joining in support. The bill was signed by President George W. Bush on November 5, 2003, but a federal judge blocked its enforcement in several states just a few hours after it became public law. The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on the procedure in the case Gonzales v. Carhart on April 18, 2007, signaling a substantial change in the Court’s approach to abortion law. The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act does not conflict with previous Court decisions regarding abortion.” (^ Greenhouse, Linda (April 19, 2007). “Justices Back Ban on Method of Abortion”. New York Times. Retrieved January 3, 2010)
With the GOP official party platform against abortion and not including any language whatsoever for the exceptions of rape, incest, or endangerment to the health of the mother, we women must re-evaluate what is important. A party willing to strip any group of persons of their right to choose what to do with their own bodies is not a party with that group’s best interests at heart. This isn’t just rhetoric from the GOP, this is full-out danger to women everywhere to allow elected officials to legislate from ignorance and their personal religious morals, a clear violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution which prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion. This means that no one can force their religious ideals and opinions on another in the form of a law. Allowing for abortion ‘as it currently stands’ does not infringe upon the free exercise of a pro-lifers religion as it does not force them to have or even participate actively in an abortion. But the official GOP party platform would make Roe v. Wade obsolete; thereby further victimizing any rape victim by forcing that woman to endure an unwanted, forced pregnancy. This makes that rape last not for the moment, but for nine months. Is this what we, as women, want? Do we really want to go back to the days of dangerous back alley abortions? What’s next, legalizing rape? I wouldn’t be surprised by this with the proven record of misogyny in the GOP.
Rape is no joke. It’s not something I would wish on anyone. It’s has nothing to do with sex or pleasure, but is about control and violence. It’s not about love, but about hate and anger. No one should be forced to endure it at all much less than being forced to endure it for nine months following the incident. Each person must be allowed to make their own choice in their personal situation. This choice should not be made by government, ever!
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M. Gwynn has authored two books, Harvest and The Cat Who Wanted to be a Reindeer on Amazon.com .
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