Pennsylvania Christian Taliban Wants Women To Prove Rape Or No Food Stamps

It’s becoming increasingly clear that there is a very large and influential part of the Republican party that is infatuated with the idea of rape. Does that sound harsh? Well, Mitt Romney has endorsed exactly one Senatorial candidate and that candidate has called rape a “gift from God.” Romney is still standing by his man.

Even more recently, AlterNet uncovered a Pennsylvania bill which would force women to prove they were raped before being given food stamps:

Despite the fact that low-income women who give birth to children would logically need increased assistance to care for their larger family, Pennsylvania lawmakers — State Reps. RoseMarie Swanger (R), Tom Caltagirone (D)* please see update below, Mark Gillen (R), Keith Gillespie (R), Adam Harris (R), and Mike Tobash (R) — don’t want their state’s food stamp program to provide additional benefits for that newborn.

If a woman gives birth to a child who was conceived from rape, she may seek an exception to this rule so that her food stamp benefits aren’t slashed, but only if she can provide proof that she reported her sexual assault and her abuser’s identity to the police.

Just in case you’re thinking that this bill would actually encourage women to file false police reports, the Reps are a step ahead of you.

The language of the bill goes on to note that a sexual assault victim applying for an exemption will be required to sign a statement affirming she understands that “false reports to law enforcement authorities are punishable by law,” and stipulates that Pennsylvania will report any “evidence of false statements or fraud” to the correct department, all the way up to the Attorney General’s office.

Let’s think this through for just a moment. First off, these politicians are very literally saying that a child conceived from rape is more valuable than a child conceived of love (or lust).

“She should have thought about that before spreading her legs.”

Let’s ignore for just a moment that a great many single mothers didn’t start out that way. Many needy children were conceived in wedlock. Many had fathers that died or simply stopped taking care of them. Let’s also ignore the fact that this bill would shame and punish women for being sexual beings while forgetting it takes two to tango. Let’s forget about the fact that most food stamp recipients are working, but in the low-income jobs that Mitt Romney likes to brag about creating. Let’s talk about the fact that the process of proving rape is humiliating, degrading and very, very difficult.

Here’s a pretty shocking graphic from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network:

Only 5% of rapes will ever be proven. Why is that? It’s pretty simple. In 2012, rape victims are still treated like criminals. If a skirt is allegedly too short or if a woman supposedly had a bit too much to drink, then she was asking for it. If a woman dares to go to a man’s house, well, she deserves everything she can get. For most victims, it’s easier just to try to put it in the past than to be victimized over and over again, this time by the legal system.
By this calculation, nine in 10 women who are raped, report the rape, have the rapist’s child, despite not being able to afford it and collect food stamps to help feed that rapist’s child are going to be criminalized.
Women, it seems, were put on this earth to behave or be punished. For men, a one-night-stand is worthy of celebration. Without access to contraception or abortion, that same one-night-stand can turn to a life sentence for the woman.
As any first year criminology or psychology student knows, rape is not about sex. It’s about control. Taking away women’s reproductive rights is about control and so is this Pennsylvania bill. It’s no wonder that Republicans are so infatuated with rape.
* Update: I received this statement from Tom Caltagirone (D), who was listed as a sponsor of the bill.
While I appreciate the opinion of every Pennsylvanian on any particular issue, I assure you that I did not authorize my staff to sign me on as a co-sponsor on HB 2718.
I do NOT support this legislation. This is a bad bill and women struggling with the horrible impact of a vicious crime should not be placed in a position of scrutiny, instead, we should be doing all we can to help and support them during their time of need.

A mistake was made and I should not have been listed as a co-sponsor of this bill, but I assure you – HB 2718 is a reprehensible piece of legislation that will never garner my vote, let alone my sponsorship.

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