Representative Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta) introduced a bill that would change the language of state criminal codes to refer to those who file charges for rape, stalking, and domestic violence as accusers, not victims, until there has been a conviction. Carolyn Fiddler, communications director for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, explained recent outrage regarding the bill, “Burglary victims are still victims. Assault victims are still victims. Fraud victims are still victims. But if you have the misfortune to suffer a rape, or if you are beaten by a domestic partner, or if you are stalked, Rep. Franklin doesn’t think you have been victimized.”
Representative Franklin’s bill is the second piece of rape-related Republican legislation to provoke heavy criticism this month. Following an outcry from women’s rights groups and others last week, House Republicans removed the word “forcible” to describe the rape exception in H.R. 3, an anti-abortion bill introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Congressional Pro-Life Caucus Co-Chair, with the support of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).
HR 3, which purports to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortions and ensure that the healthcare reform law does not cover the cost of abortions, had provided for an exception only when the woman’s life is endangered, in cases of “forcible” rape, or in cases of incest if the woman was a minor. The exemption in the bill will now cover all forms of rape.