Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No Taxpayer Funding For Abortions Act: Great, Just One Problem...

I'm writing this in response to a discussion on Twitter- frankly, I needed much more than 140 characters.

Jenny Erikson wrote a blog post which excellently describes the issue at hand: Namely, the insertion of the word "forcible" into the text of the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortions Act, and addressing the hyperbole that this measure would "legalize rape".

Firstly, let me be clear that I am opposed to taxpayer funding of abortion. Period. My critique is about the problems with the legislation itself, not the issue driving it. Stated differently, I see this as a problem of execution, not a problem of concept.

From Jenny's post:
There is no such thing as non-forcible rape.
This is true, but problematic- the problem isn't in "redefining" rape, as some truly disturbed leftists claim, but in proving that force was used or threatened. Specifically- what constitutes sufficient proof, and how will that proof be obtained?

How, for example, does one prove to their doctor that they were threatened with a weapon (i.e. "raped at gunpoint"), unless the weapon is actually used? How does one prove that they submitted because a loved one was threatened ("Do as I say, or I'll hurt your child")? How does one prove to their doctor that they were blackmailed? Each of these types of force- or forcible coercion, as the case may be- have been used extensively by rapists, and none of them leaves any medical evidence.

Not to mention the number of cases where a rape victim's injuries have been attributed to "rough sex"- and the number of rapists who've been acquitted because of this disturbingly blurred line.

Does this necessitate the involvement of the police? The phrase "Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a detective" comes to mind (and please forgive the frivolity). In addition to the prospect of requiring women to violate their own doctor-patient confidentiality (and the attendant Constitutional issues), it must also be said that our criminal justice system has an appallingly low rate of success with sex offense cases.

In effect, such a requirement- taken to its logical ends- would discourage some victims- those who 'need' an abortion- from seeking a taxpayer-funded abortion.

On the other hand, what if no proof were required? What if all that were needed were the patient's claim of rape? It's already a well-known and disgusting fact that some women falsely claim rape- the Duke University case being a well-publicized example of this. I am deeply troubled by the notion of subsidizing another incentive to do so- in fact, funding those who 'want' an abortion, which is exactly what this legislation seeks to prevent.

I won't speculate on the reasons for adding the term "forcibly" to this legislation. I'm sure it's nothing more than well-intentioned, but short-sighted, attempt to limit the amount of taxpayer money spent on such procedures; but, as they say, the devil's in the details.

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