Monday, January 31, 2011

Republican Priorities

For a year leading up to the 2010 elections, Republicans campaigning for public office raised holy hell against the Obama administration for spending so much time on health care reform while the country languished in a prolonged recession and unemployment hovered close to 10%. Their cry was all about jobs, jobs, jobs. It was all about doing the people's work once they regained control of the House.

So how has the first session of the 112th Congress, specifically the new Republican led House of Representatives, tackled the unemployment issue? So far, they haven't.

After one month of the new Congress, they've spent a little over their first week, reading the Constitution, while conveniently skipping the three-fifths clause, apparently to the detriment of Michele Bachmann, had a symbolic vote to repeal the "job killing" health care reform passed by the previous Congress, took a week off due to the tragic event in Tucson, and are now pushing a bill called the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." They are so clever with their bill titles, those Republicans, aren't they?

While there is already precedence for prohibition of federal funding of abortion with the Hyde Amendment, this is a dubious effort to constrict the legal right of abortion because the wording in the bill is attempting to redefine rape.

Since the 1976 Hyde Amendment, federal law has prohibited federal funds to pay for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, and when the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, but now...

"...Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." 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.
...Given that the bill also would forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old's parents wouldn't be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn't be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense."
This doesn't pass the smell test because there is no legal definition of "forcible rape." What about date rape? Or victims being drugged? And how can you pass a law with such vague definitions subject to malleable interpretation? How many bruises does a rape victim have to have before the sex is considered "forcible?"

So just to reiterate, after 18 months of GOP whining that Democrats spent too much time focusing on health care and not enough on jobs, the Republican led House has spent its first month focusing on repealing health care benefits already in place for millions of people and the further restriction of legal medical procedures. The people's work indeed.

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