If often seems as though there are no limits to the lengths anti-choice politicians will go to force their views on American women. Likewise, it seems just as frequently, as though there are no depths to which they’ll sink in the process as well. Now, in the spirit of that beloved conservative tradition of putting old white men in charge of the bodies of American women, Republicans in congress and state legislatures throughout the country are beginning to roll out their latest weapon in their ceaseless assault on reproductive choice and women’s health: The government audit.
Though they’ve done nothing about jobs, nothing about our crumbling infrastructure and nothing to stem the tide of rising inequality, the 113th Congress believes controlling women’s reproductive health care is crucial to the security and prosperity of the nation. In House Resolution (HR) 7, also entitled the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” congress seeks to roll back the clock on women’s health even more, by eliminating all Medicaid coverage and reimbursement for abortion services, adding in of course, their favorite exceptions for cases of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the woman.
The most disturbing part of this however is not merely that the “do-nothing congress” of the Republican party, while flouting and ignoring their responsibilities to pass laws that support and protect the country, nor the fact that in the midst of their endless obstructionism, that HR7, sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith of New Jersey, managed to secure 164 cosponsors, all of whom probably could have been doing something far more productive with their time.
No, the most disturbing part of this bill, which was introduced with an identical companion bill in the senate (S.946,) is that so defined are the criteria under which an abortion may be exempt from the law, that any woman who may receive the procedure for the cases cited (rape, incest, threat to life,) leaves herself open to an audit and investigation by IRS officials to verify her claims.
In essence, should the nightmare scenario of a pregnancy by rape lead to an abortion and should, by any number of ways through the various complexities of tax subsidy or public reimbursement for health care expenses, such a procedure come under question by IRS officials, an on-the-record recounting by the victim of the rape, the pregnancy, the abortion and the aftermath will be required in order to prove to the government that such was a “legitimate” case.
The ongoing Republican assault on reproductive freedom in Congress mirrors countless state level efforts of similar varieties. Presently twenty-two states maintain restrictions on Medicaid funded or assisted abortion care, with many requiring that those seeking such in cases of rape or sexual assault provide detailed reports to police, social services and various state agencies. In Iowa, anti-choice legislation has even led to final approval for such Medicaid reimbursements (which as of 2012 cost the state only $20,000,) to be personally signed off on individually by the governor himself.
In their crusade to both ignore pressing issues and further establish their puritan, fundamentalist society of patriarchal power, it can often be easy to forget that this comes from the same party and ideology which routinely attempts to terrify the public with concepts such as government control over health care or ideological tyranny dictating and passing judgement on the personal lives of citizens.
But in this very real and very disgusting comparison of Republican rhetoric and their actual governing practices, it should be quite clear to observe that in the eyes of the right wing conservative, women’s bodies are as much property now as they were in the biblical times that so many of them wish to return to. Furthermore, for all their posturing and grandstanding against the size and scope of government and its meddling in the lives of people, it is clear and crystal that such rhetoric ends when the unpleasant and often horrifying realities of life and society stand to challenge their moral and religious convictions.
For though they’d never dream to let the IRS audit the multinational corporations, ultra wealthy individuals or shadowy superPAC groups which keep their broken party afloat, sending the tax man after rape victims to get the nitty-gritty of their nightmares seems to simply be par for course to these, our “freedom loving” right wing zealots.