January 31, 2011


I read in the Yahoo news summaries recently that the U.S. House of Representatives has a bill before it to limit a woman’s right to medical coverage for abortions when she is the victim of rape. The new language proposed is that the victim must been forcibly raped. This is someone’s attempt to narrow the language so that more women are denied medical coverage for the procedure.

My response, initially, was to laugh. Forcible rape is as meaningless a phrase as “a little bit pregnant,” or “nearly a virgin.”  Rape means being taken by force. Adding a word before it won’t change the intent of the law but it will create a field day for attorneys. Instead of arguing about whether or not rape occurred, they’ll be attempting to define what’s meant by “forcibly.” And of course if a woman is violated after being rendered unconscious by drugs or being struck on the head, then I suppose she hasn’t been raped as she’s done nothing but lie there.

We all know that language is a powerful tool and with it we can reshape how we think about the world. Certainly, those in Congress who are promulgating this bill are insulting our intelligence as they engage in double speak. They want to deny women access to paid medical coverage for abortions for any reason. They want to upend the law of the land. Frankly, I’m tired of seeing our language raped to serve political agendas.