Deliberate attempts are being made this week by abortion advocates to equate Congressman Todd Akin’s recent use of the phrase “legitimate rape” with the inclusion of the legal term “forcible rape” in a draft of H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” This deliberate dissembling must be addressed.  Simply, abortion advocates are peddling misleading accusations in an attempt to smear pro-life legislators.

H.R. 3, overwhelmingly passed by the U.S. House Representatives, would establish a comprehensive prohibition on the use of federal funds for abortions and insurance coverage for abortion.  The bill includes the same exceptions that are found in current federal abortion funding restrictions (i.e., when the pregnancy “is the result of an act of rape or incest” or when the pregnancy places the woman “in danger of death unless an abortion is performed”). 

When H.R. 3 was introduced it included the term “forcible rape” in the exceptions.  The term “forcible rape” was borrowed by the drafters of H.R. 3 from the FBI, which used the term in their crime statistics.  However, because the sponsors of H.R. 3 wanted to be clear that the exceptions in H.R. 3 were intended to be consistent with existing law, the word “forcible” was removed during a committee mark-up of the bill, a change that Americans United for Life Action encouraged and supported.  

Critically, the sponsors of H.R. 3 never intended to change the nature of the exceptions to federal abortion funding restrictions.  They wanted to ensure that the law was as clear as possible, an aspiration that good lawmakers strive toward.   

However, the powerful abortion lobby and its friends in the media have attempted to muddy the waters and vilify the intent and motivation of lawmakers who were attempting to protect the interests of the American people. Efforts to malign the sponsors of H.R. 3 over the initial use of the term “forcible rape” in their bill should be condemned as purely political.