Sunday, September 23, 2012

Thanks, Susana

Scorn is still coming down on Susana Martinez and ridicule is still being heaped on New Mexico despite the governor's quick about face after she was widely criticized for trying to narrow the legal definition of rape.

I just got emails today containing links to two more articles. There have been dozens in nationally read news sites and blogs. I just did a Google search using the terms "Susana Martinez forcible rape" and it brought back 33,700 results.

Susana Martinez - Politico

One of the two new stories I read today contained a link to the widely read feminist blog Jezebel, which gives it pretty good to Martinez, and New Mexico.

"Apparently unwilling to be perpetually outshone by neighbor Arizona in the Batshittery Tour de USA, New Mexico has entered the War on Women fray with a truly heinous proposed change to how the state doles out assistance."

The Jezebel story even mocked us by showing a picture of the welcome sign you see at the New Mexico state line. How enchanting, to ask for public assistance when you're the victim of rape in New Mexico, the nation is thinking now, thanks to Susana Martinez.

Martinez, a first term Republican, began attracting that kind of widespread condemnation this past week when it became known she was trying to change state policy to make rape victims first try to get money from their rapists before they'd be eligible for social services, and for trying to make it so that only victims of "forcible rape" were exempt from this new requirement.

Republicans have already tried to narrow the legal definition of rape federally, with a bill co-introduced by Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee, and by the notorious Missouri congressman Todd Akin, who started a firestorm by repeating the claim widely believed by the Religious Right that women who are victims of "legitimate rape" can't become pregnant because of it. "Legitimate rape" and "forcible rape" are used interchangeably in the anti abortion movement, which wants to narrow the definition of rape in order to reduce the number of abortions that are allowed under exclusions for rape in anti abortion laws.

A Martinez Administration spokesperson, after the governor quickly reversed course on the forcible rape language,  told the Huffington Post that the proposed changes didn't reflect Martinez' beliefs, and that Martinez used the term "forcible rape" because that's how the FBI describes rape, but that's not true. It once was, but the Obama Administration removed the word "forcible." Now, as far as the FBI goes, rape is rape.

Martinez, a lawyer, a former prosecutor, knows exactly what she's doing when it comes to legal language. In a proclamation issued earlier this year condemning rape she also used the term "forcible rape," as no less than The Guardian points out, and she used that language for a reason. She knows exactly how the term "forcible rape" narrows the legal definition of rape and why she wants it narrowed.

Martinez is keenly aware of the Republican Party's war on reproductive rights, of their attempts to make it difficult to get contraception, of their opposition to equal pay for women, of their efforts to make it harder and harder to obtain a safe and legal abortion. She knows full well that the strategy Republicans and their allies in the Religious Right are pursuing at the moment is to limit a woman's rights at the state level, to move state by state to undo the gains in equality women have made. Susana Martinez can claim ignorance, but she is well aware of her party's war on women because she's part of it. 


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