MONDAY UPDATE: A reader sent us the text of a letter from Rep. Cory Gardner in response to questions about his co-sponsorship of this legislation, where he self-identifies as an “original co-sponsor.” This was already known, but some readers wanted to see the proof. Full text below.
Last fall, the United States Senate race between Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Ken Buck was completely upended when, in early October, the victim of an alleged 2005 date rape in Greeley–a crime that Buck had refused to prosecute–came forward with new information that fatally damaged Buck’s previously excellent prospects for victory.
That case, as alleged, was one of “non forcible” date rape: the circumstances of the case, including the alleged perpetrator’s admission to the crime, were part of what resonated so intensely and emotionally with women voters. The recording the alleged victim provided of Buck’s questioning, and evident presumption about her motives on display in that recording, amounted to a grevious insult to many more women than this one victim.
This week, as we’ve discussed a couple of times, the conflict over a new bill in the new Republican Congress to restrict federal coverage for abortions to only cases of “forcible rape” came to a head. Yesterday the lead author backed off, and agreed to revert the language to that of existing law–which makes an exception to the ban on federal assistance for an abortion for all rape victims. No real explanation for the attempt to change this exception to only cases of “forcible rape” has been given, except that critics have “misconstrued” its intentions. In today’s Fort Collins Coloradoan, Rep. Cory Gardner, an original co-sponsor, says he “supports” the change, and his spokesperson adds that it was ‘never the intention’ to change the definition of rape.
But as the Colorado Independent’s Scott Kersgaard reports, the alleged victim whose case Buck infamously disregarded as “buyer’s remorse”…isn’t buying it.
“I can’t even begin to process how much this would have harmed victims…,” said the rape victim whose case became a lightning rod in Colorado’s senate race last fall.
“If this were to pass, it would be a huge step backwards, back to the times that society believed women could only be raped by strangers and that it wasn’t rape unless it was physically violent. We have reached a point today that we know this is not the case and time and time again, study after study we’ve seen that women are raped by those that they know and trust and that more times than not it would not count as “forcible.” This is for a number of reasons, often drugs or alcohol are involved which is one, but you also have to recognize that we humans, and most animals, respond to threats with fight, flight, or freeze. If the person freezes and does not fight back, would this still count as forcible? In cases of statutory rape, and women who are younger than the legal age of consent, is that forcible? Really the important thing isn’t how they define “forcible”, the important issue is that rape, regardless of the circumstances, is still rape and to attempt to give some rape victims more rights than others is ignoring that fact,” she said.
“There is so much more that could be said about this… I’m completely blown away that this would even be considered by anyone, regardless of party lines. It’s times like these that I wish our politicians understood the meaning of empathy and the phrase, “walk a mile in their shoes.” This was obviously a political move, and not one meant to serve the people. Sadly, the ones that it would have hurt are women who are already hurting and it would have created even more barriers in an already broken system.”
So here’s our question, given that Gardner’s first real comment on this legislation, which he proudly notes he is an “original co-sponsor” of, is to support changing it: did he ever read the bill? If he did, why should he get away with cheerily declaring he’s fine with changing it now? What did he think of this provision before it was controversial, but he was still an original co-sponsor?
“Read the bill!” That applies to both parties, doesn’t it?
Thank you for contacting me regarding H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. I appreciate you taking the time to write. It is an honor to serve you in Congress and I hope you will continue to write with your thoughts and ideas on moving our country forward.
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act was introduced by Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ) on January 20, 2011. This bill would prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion in all federal programs. I am an original cosponsor of this bill [Pols emphasis] because I do not believe the public should be asked to pay for an abortion.
Currently, this bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, on which I serve, as well as the House Committees on the Judiciary and Ways and Means. Although we disagree on this issue, I am sure there are many more issues we do agree upon in moving our country forward.
Again, thank you for contacting me, and do not hesitate to do so again when an issue is important to you.
Member of Congress