Missouri Rep. Rick Brattin — big surprise, a Republican — filed a bill earlier this month that would force pregnant women to get permission from the men who impregnated them before having an abortion — except in the case of “legitimate rape.”
The proposed legislation, which will come before the Missouri congress in next year’s legislative session, reads, “No abortion shall be performed or induced unless and until the father of the unborn child provides written, notarized consent to the abortion.”
While the bill does make exceptions for rape or incest, there are ridiculous requirements even in those cases.
“Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it,” Brattin told Mother Jones. “So you couldn’t just go and say, ‘Oh yeah, I was raped’ and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape,” adding that he isn’t using the term in the same way that former Rep. Todd Akin did in 2012.
“I’m just saying if there was a legitimate rape, you’re going to make a police report, just as if you were robbed. That’s just common sense … You have to take steps to show that you were raped … And I think you’d be able to prove that.”
Brattin pointed to another Missouri law that he said requires a man looking to get a vasectomy to get permission from his spouse before having the procedure as the inspiration for his bill.
“When a man goes in for that procedure — at least in the state of Missouri — you have to have a consent form from your spouse in order to have that procedure done. Here I was getting a normal procedure that has nothing to do with another human being’s life, and I need to get a signed form … But on ending a life, you don’t. I think that’s pretty twisted.”
What’s really twisted is that Missouri, according to a Planned Parenthood spokesperson, does not in fact have any such law on the books. Some individual practitioners might require a man to have his partner’s consent, but there is no official law requiring as such. Men are still free to have whatever medical procedures they choose, without government interference.
And what’s even more twisted than Brattin’s interpretation of a non-existent law is his view of rape victims.
While statistics differ on how many women will be sexually assaulted in some way in their lifetime, many women who are raped, “legitimately” or not, are afraid to come forward for a myriad of reasons. They usually know their rapist, and coming forward could make their lives even more difficult. They are often treated like the criminal and not the victim. They are expected to justify why they got raped, as though it was their fault — “Were you drunk?” “What were you wearing?” “Why were you at that party/on that street/etc. in the first place?”
And even the women who are brave enough to come forward and attempt to prosecute their attackers don’t see justice. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, out of the 40 percent of rapes that are actually reported to the police, only 10 percent lead to an arrest, only eight percent get prosecuted, just four percent lead to a felony conviction, and only three percent of rapists will ever actually see even a single day of jail time.
With less than a four percent chance of actually getting justice, it’s not hard to see why rape victims choose not to report their attacks to the police. Under Brattin’s bill, it would almost be statistically impossible for a woman impregnated by her rapist to meet all the requirements for an abortion that the legislation proposes. And having to get permission from the man that raped them to get an abortion is a slap in the face to victims who have already had their lives turned upside down. Having to get permission from a man to have a medical procedure, rape victim or not, is so condescending and ludicrous that it defies logic.