February 1, 2011
This weekend, feminist activists ramped up their opposition to HR3, the so-called “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act.” Speaker of the House John Boehner has called passing this act “one of our highest legislative priorities.” With a coordinated campaign to call Congressional representatives quickly underway (organized over the Twitter hashtag #DearJohn), it’s clear reproductive justice activists are determined to push back hard.
If passed, HR3 would put the burden on survivors of sexual assault to prove their rape was “forcible” in order to qualify for any public assistance for abortion. As Mother Jones reported last week, this Republican plan to redefine rape isn’t just a hateful attack on survivors of violence. It marks a shift in anti-abortion tactics with devastating implications:
“Since 1976, federal law has prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, and when the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman. But since last year, the anti-abortion side has become far more aggressive in challenging this compromise. They have been pushing to outlaw tax deductions for insurance plans that cover abortion, even if the abortion coverage is never used. The Smith bill represents a frontal attack on these long-standing exceptions.”
So in addition to rolling back almost all of the (very few) exceptions for Federal funding of abortion, House Republicans (and a handful of Democrats) are attempting to redefine rape in order to restrict abortion access.
Reproductive justice activists have long recognized that sexual violence and abortion access are deeply connected. As a matter of body autonomy, we all should have the power to decide when we want to have sex and when to have children.
These attempts to regulate reproductive and sexual health access out of existence aren’t just an attack on our rights. They are a form of institutional violence, and they disproportionately impact people of color, low income people, and young women, transgender and gender nonconforming youth.
HR3 has 173 co-sponsors. You can find out if your Congressional rep has backed HR3, and give them a call to let them know how HR3 will impact you and your community if it passes. Right now, HR3 is sitting in committee — there’s still time to have your voice heard. Once you’ve made your call, drop us a comment here, or chime in on #DearJohn on Twitter.
Written by: Melissa Gira Grant