It’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week, and in South Carolina, a debate is raging in the legislature as to who are the real victims of sexual assault — the woman or girl attacked, or a fertilized egg, embryo, fetus created during the assault.
For South Carolina State Senator Kevin Bryant, there’s no question — it’s the “unborn child.”
Via The Columbia State:
The dispute focuses on the definition of “victim.” Supporters, like Bryant, say the unborn child is a victim who has rights that must be protected.
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“We’re focusing on the rights and the liberty of an unborn child, and I can’t understand why the life of a child that’s a victim ought to be terminated,” Bryant said.
But critics say barring abortions in the case of rape or incest ignores the rights of the mother — who has already been the victim of a crime.
“They are saying, ‘We don’t care about victims of crime,’” Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg said. “It really penalizes victims for a second time.”
The moratorium on abortions in case of rape would apply only to the women reliant on the state health insurance system: This obviously affects low-income or uninsured pregnant victims of sexual assault who would either have to find the money to pay for an abortion out-of-pocket, or be forced into pregnancy and childbirth, and ultimately to give a baby up for adoption if she doesn’t want to raise her attacker’s child. But Bryant and his colleague don’t see that as any additional punishment for a woman.
Abortion in the case of rape used to be the one exception on which all but the most zealous of anti-choice advocates could find common ground. Now it is becoming one of the most eagerly sought additions for restricting abortions. Because the only place that anti-choice politicians can actively ban abortions is among the poor, who are forced to use public assistance to receive medical care, and ending rape exceptions are a way to signal their passion for eliminating reproductive rights for all women, no matter how incremental the change.
Rape exceptions used to be a given. Now, they are increasingly rare. Can we expect the same change to occur with “life of the mother” exceptions, too?