Democrats and Allies Missing the Big Picture on “Rape Redefinition” Bill

I don't need to explain the metaphor, do I? (photo: MPBecker)

I don’t have a heck of a lot to add to the kabuki dance over the GOP’s “rape redefinition” bill other than what Digby says here. Republicans stuck this divisive element into a bill that was already divisive, and would cause irreparable and far-reaching damage to a woman’s right to choose a legal medical procedure by making it impossible for her to get insurance coverage for it. This would codify the Hyde Amendment, which up until 2008 I thought choice groups had a vested interest in overturning. Obviously changing the definition of rape is horrific and astonishing, but fighting the bill on those terms merely gives up the real fight over allowing American women the ability to afford a medical procedure they may choose. With the exchanges about to come on line, and small business subsidies and all the other public money sloshing around in the health care system, passing this bill would stop all private insurance companies from covering abortion services in their plans, not to mention setting in statute the ban on abortion services through Medicaid, TriCARE, the Indian Health Service, federal prisoners, women in the Peace Corps and even Washington DC residents.

Here’s Digby:

The conservatives understand the art of negotiation and I think they have put this provision in there for the express purpose of creating a firestorm, drawing the attention of the pro-choice groups and then “reluctantly” giving it up in exchange for the Democrats giving in on all the other, less sexy, changes they really want. Changes which will restrict abortion for far more people throughout the country than this rape redefinition ever would.

The fight to extend the Hyde Amendment and make the permanent law of the land has been going on for more than 30 years. It has been a hard fought battle, with the forces for women losing in increments, over and over and over again, mostly due to the fact that they’ve been used as bargaining chips in “more important” battles […]

So now we are dealing with a new congress that is determined to pick up where the health care bill left off. And it appears that the Democrats are getting distracted by the bright shiny object and failing to engage on the real issue the Republicans are targeting, which is a further restriction on abortion rights and the final codification of Hyde. And as usual, I have to wonder if they can possibly be this dumb or if they are preparing to cave as part of their ongoing quixotic strategy to find “common ground” going into 2012. Indeed, considering the president’s comments about “tradition” I have to think he would be more than willing to entertain a bipartisan agreement on this issue. There is no reason to believe that he won’t sign the bill. (Of course, he and the Democrats can heroically take credit for ensuring that there was no “rape” provision, so we’ll all be asked to cheer our team for the good work they are doing on our behalf.)

Choice groups, pardon the pun, have a choice. They could call for the total rollback of Hyde, as they did for over 35 years until this Presidency, instead of using the rape redefinition angle as the only entry into this debate. The reward for that will be that rape will still be defined as before, and Hyde will become law. How is that useful to the cause of reproductive rights?

Sadly, I feel like choice groups act in the best interest of their fundraising and email lists rather than the best interests of women.

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