The House will vote on House Bill 36 today, a restrictive 20-week abortion ban that would force rape survivors seeking abortion care to either report the crime to authorities if under 18 years of age, or if over 18 years old, seek medical care or counseling at least 48 hours prior to having an abortion. There is no exception to the requirement to report rape or incest for minors.
House Republicans previously attempted to vote on this bill in January, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. They were forced to pull the bill just before midnight, however, due to concerns from Republican women about reporting requirements for rape and incest survivors.
Anti-choice politicians are now claiming the bill is different, but the new requirements for survivors of rape seeking abortion care are similarly restrictive, and equally problematic.
“This bill is not only unconstitutional, but shows a callous disregard for victims of rape and incest and an unbelievable lack of compassion,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority. “How can it be that this unconstitutional bill, that would injure women and girls, is one of the top three priorities of the House Republicans?”
If HR 36 is passed, adult rape survivors would be required to report the crime to “an appropriate law enforcement agency,” which has many worried that the bill ignores the experience of sexual assault by forcing her to take steps that may further trauma. This bill places additional burdens and barriers for minors, as there is no exception for minors in the mandatory reporting of rape or incest. Minors are often more hesitant to report, as their assailants are often someone they know or someone within their family.
The only other option for a rape survivor seeking abortion care, under this restrictive bill, is for the woman to seek medical attention or counseling at least 48 hours before their procedure at a location other than where they plan to have their procedure. This places severe limitations on women who live in rural areas, where finding two separate provider s- one for medical attention or counseling and one for an abortion – is unrealistic and overly burdensome.
Media Resources: Congress.gov House Bill 36; RH Reality Check 5/12/15;