Well, it didn't take long to get Republicans to drop the most immediately offensive provision of H.R. 3:
House Republicans plan to sidestep a charged debate over the distinction between “forcible rape” and “rape” by altering the language of a bill banning taxpayer subsidies for abortions.
The provision in question, written as an exemption from the ban for women who become pregnant as a result of “forcible rape,” touched off a firestorm of criticism from women’s groups, and it gained enough attention to become the subject of a satirical segment on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
But a spokesman for the bill’s author, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), says the modifier “forcible” will be dropped so that the exemption covers all forms of rape, as well as cases of incest and the endangerment of the life of the mother.
But if you read Digby yesterday, you already know that as offensive as it was, the rape redefinition was very likely a purposeful red herring, meant to generate attention and outrage, but not really a central premise of the Republican attack or reproductive rights. And if you read what I added yesterday, you also know that the most ambitious elements of the bill aren't even designed to be limited to the issue of abortion, and can reach just about anything Republicans decide they don't like.
Perhaps Republicans didn't expect to be hit so hard, so soon. But if you're surprised by the speed with which they backed off, then you might already be wondering whether this wasn't a set play after all. After all, Republicans are now in the position of having "compromised" with the first objections of the bill's opponents. Which means the David Broders of the world will be only too happy to present them with the Official Washington, D.C. Reasonableness Award, and brand those with other, similarly deep-seated objections as a bunch of whiners, for whom no Reasonable Compromise is ever good enough.
Let's not let that happen. Nor should we let any Member of Congress announce this change and declare victory over H.R. 3. If you missed the discussion yesterday, do catch yourself up on what an abject surrender it would be to let this bill's abortion restrictions go unchallenged, and the incredibly invasive and far-reaching divide and conquer weapon it hands to Republicans.