The new bill, however, used the phrase “forcible rape” when first unveiled. Adding the word “forcible” mirrors how the FBI classifies different types of rape and would offer more clarity in the bill, Lipinski said.

A recent controversy over wording in a bill has shed light on a glaring deficiency in how different types of rape are classified.


U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., introduced the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act two weeks ago. The bill seeks to apply the Hyde Amendment permanently to all federal legislation.


The Hyde Amendment is routinely reauthorized each year and attached to appropriation bills for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It restricts federal funding for abortions to cases of rape, incest and to preserve the life and health of the mother.


In the limited cases where it’s allowed, federal money is used for abortions primarily via Medicaid. However, pro-life advocates fear the health care reform legislation passed last year could provide new avenues of funding. Proponents said the new bill would close this loophole.


The new bill, however, used the phrase “forcible rape” when first unveiled. U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., said Smith told him that the Hyde Amendment was never intended to cover all cases of illegal sexual activity, such as intercourse between two minors. Adding the word “forcible” mirrors how the FBI classifies different types of rape and would offer more clarity in the bill, Lipinski said.


An uproar over this phrase compelled sponsors to agree last week to change the wording to “rape.”


I agree that federal funding for elective abortions must be strictly limited. But the FBI’s use of the phrase “forcible rape” is puzzling and can obviously lead to confusion.


Regardless of whether she had sex with a minor or an adult, an underage girl cannot give legal consent. Under the law, therefore, she is not culpable if she becomes pregnant.


Minors must be allowed to use federal money for abortions if this is their only funding option. For a piece of legislation to withhold funding from some pregnant minors while giving it to others simply wouldn’t make sense.


Jerry Moore is the opinions editor for Suburban Life Publications. Contact him at (630) 368-8930 or jmoore@mysuburbanlife.com.