Advocates Stand Against Narrow Rape Exemption in Abortion Legislation

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More than fifty national and state anti-violence against women organizations joined the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence in a statement asking Congress and the federal government to cease using the term “forcible rape” especially as it pertains to any exemption in abortion legislation.

National Alliance to End Sexual Violence

“Rape is rape. The term “forcible rape” indicates a misunderstanding of both the nature and extent of sexual violence in our nation.” -Johnson Hostler, president of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

More than fifty national and state anti-violence against women organizations have joined the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence in a statement asking Congress and the federal government to cease using the term “forcible rape” especially as it pertains to any exemption in abortion legislation. The groups also want states required to continue providing Medicaid coverage for abortions in cases of rape and incest.

“Rape is rape. The term “forcible rape” indicates a misunderstanding of both the nature and extent of sexual violence in our nation,” said Monika Johnson Hostler, president of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. Sexual violence occurs on a continuum of complex and difficult crimes having devastating impacts on victims. According to the United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, only 31% of rapes are reported to law enforcement.1 The term “forcible rape” is used in the Uniform Crime Report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to report incidents of rape and is defined very narrowly excluding many forms of criminal sexual behavior.2 “Using more restrictive language only limits the resources available to all rape victims,” Ms. Johnson Hostler added.

“Every area of a victim’s life is affected by sexual violence whether it is a child sexually abused by a family member, a teenager coerced into sex by an older man, a college student drugged and assaulted at a party, or an adult raped by a stranger or by her ex-husband. Advocates at 1300 rape crisis centers across the United States bear witness to the trauma of sexual violence every day and see the torment caused by the loss of power and control over one’s body—one’s most intimate self—that is at the heart of sexual violence,” commented Terri Poore, Policy Chair of the National Alliance Against Sexual Violence.

Research shows that at least 1-5% of sexual assaults results in pregnancy.3 In 2008, the Supreme Court of California upheld that pregnancy resulting from rape constitutes great bodily injury.4 “Most of us can’t imagine what it would be like to face the pain of a pregnancy resulting from rape. The cornerstone of our work as advocates is supporting victims in regaining control over their bodies and lives by explaining all available options and supporting the victim’s decision about which option to choose. If after exploring all of her options, a victim of any form of sexual violence decides that she cannot go through with a pregnancy resulting from the crime, we should not add any hurdles or barriers to the process,” Ms. Johnson Hostler commented.

Link to the statement: http://naesv.org/2009/

The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) works to end sexual violence and ensure services for victims. The NAESV Board of Directors consists of leaders of state sexual assault coalitions and national law, policy, and tribal experts who promote the organization’s mission to advance and strengthen public policy on behalf of state coalitions, individuals, and others working to end sexual violence. Most importantly, the NAESV advocates on behalf of the victim/survivors – women, children and men – who have needlessly suffered the serious trauma of sexual violence and envisions a world free from sexual violence.

Organizations supporting NAESV’s statement:

National:
Break the Cycle
Casa de Esperanza
Family Violence Prevention Fund
Institute on Domestic Violence in the African-American Community
Jewish Women International
Joyful Heart Foundation
Legal Momentum
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Congress of American Indians Task Force on Violence Against Women
National Council of Jewish Women
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence (Alianza)
National Network to End Domestic Violence
National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
Women of Color Network

State/Local:
Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services
ContactLifeline/Sexual Assault Network of Delaware
Day One Rhode Island
DC Rape Crisis Center
Florida Council Against Sexual Violence
Houston Area Women’s Center
Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Jane Doe, The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault
Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Services
New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault
New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs
New York Coalition Against Sexual Assault
North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Panhandle Crisis Center, Perryton, TX
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
Texas Association Against Sexual Assault
Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs
West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services
Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault

References:
1http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/press/rcp00pr.cfm
2http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/offenses/violent_crime/forcible_rape.html
3Holmes, M.M., et al. (1996). Rape-related pregnancy: Estimates and descriptive characteristics from a national sample of women. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 175(2): 320-25.
4People v. Cross, 45 Cal. 4th 58 (2008).

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