We all remember former Rep. Todd Akin, the Missouri Republican who coined the phrase “legitimate rape” and spotted Democrats a huge gender gap during the 2012 election, followed by a soul-searching “autopsy report” and GOP candidate workshops on how to talk to the ladies, right? In the intervening years, Republicans have pretty much decided to keep their policy positions the same, or make them more extreme, keep those policy positions as under the radar as possible, and just deny that there’s a War on Women. Hours before the State of the Union address, President Obama threw a wrench into any plans the GOP had of appearing moderate to women voters.
Two weeks ago, House Republicans introduced a bill called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban all abortions after 20 weeks, unless the abortion:
“is necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, but not including psychological or emotional conditions; or
“the pregnancy is the result of rape, or the result of incest against a minor, if the rape has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency, or if the incest against a minor has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency or to a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse or neglect.”
Sorry, gals, none of those fakey-fakey “unreported” rapes or incests. And even if your rape is legitimate enough to qualify you for an abortion after 20 weeks, the doctor has to try his best to see that he “provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive” the procedure. The entire enterprise is unscientific, based on quack “fetal pain” science, and reaches beyond the current Supreme Court standard of viability, as the White House’s statement of administration policy promising a veto of HR 36 explains:
“Over the past forty years, since Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to privacy, including the right to choose. H.R. 36 is a direct challenge to the Supreme Court’s holdings on abortion. Not only is the basis for H.R. 36 scientifically disputed, the bill disregards women’s health and rights, the role doctors play in their patients’ health care decisions, and the Constitution. Furthermore, the provision that requires rape and incest survivors to report the crime to a law enforcement agency or child welfare authority in order to have access to an abortion after the 20-week mark demonstrates a complete disregard for the women who experience sexual assault and the barriers they may face in reporting. Research indicates that the majority of survivors have not reported their sexual assaults to law enforcement.”
Another version of the bill passed the House in 2013, but never went any further, and the Obama administration issued a veto threat for that bill, as well – two months after it was introduced. The timing of this latest veto threat can be no accident. President Obama has been previewing his SOTU speech for weeks now, including a just-unveiled tax plan to benefit the middle class, and his proposals are widely seen as more of a political table setting for 2016 than anything else. With this veto threat, he’s setting the table for Republicans, too, with a dish they’d rather leave covered.