Want Welfare in New Mexico? Better Be Ready to Prove You Were 'Forcibly Raped'

Illustration for article titled Want Welfare in New Mexico? Better Be Ready to Prove You Were Forcibly Raped

Time to woefully set the giant "DAYS SINCE SOMEONE IN THE GOVERNMENT SAID SOMETHING ASININE ABOUT RAPE" sign back to 0. It seems that the state of New Mexico is trying to limit certain state aid to only women who can prove their child is the result of "forcible rape." Not that other, less awful sort of rape that ladies kinda ask for.

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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. Basically, in order to qualify for the state to help pay for childcare, as it stands now, low income women with children must first do everything in their power to seek child support from the child's father. There are exceptions to that rule; for example, if seeking child support is impossible because the child's father is dead, then, well, not much you can do there. And until these new proposed revisions, mothers of children who were the result of rape were not required to seek child support from their rapists.

But enter New Mexico's Republican governor Susana Martinez! According to RHReality Check, back in March of this year, she issued a curious proclamation in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month — "WHEREAS, FIFTEEN PERCENT OF NEW MEXICAN ADULTS HAVE BEEN FORCIBLY RAPED AT LEAST ONCE IN THEIR LIFETIMES...."

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There we go with "forcibly" again. Whatever could that have been portending?

Turns out, it was portending this terribly depressing revision to the state's aid requirements. Now, theoretically, women who have children that resulted from rape must prove they were "forcibly" raped ... or ask their non-forcible rapist for help with their kid. Jodi Jacobson at RHRC surmises that this could force "women who have left violent domestic partnerships, who were date-raped, who were impregnated as a result of incest, or through other "non-forcible" but nonetheless equally violent and denigrating means of sexual violation to first re-engage with their abusers to seek child support, putting control of their lives back into the hands of someone by whom they were violated in the most profound sense of the term, or to prove somehow they were victims of 'forcible' rape or incest," but that scenario is unlikely, as the state's guidelines also allow women to defer seeking child support from their child's father if "there is possible physical or emotional harm to the child, parent or guardian." So if you were in an abusive relationship with some jagoff who knocked you up and left, you could make a case that you were abused and are uncomfortable approaching the child's father.

But what's actually troubling about this policy change is that, as Jacobson points out, it seems to be another step in a forcible rape legal creep; rather than changing the definition outright at the federal level (which Paul Ryan, Todd Akin, et al. tried to do), they change it one department at a time. If whether a rape was "forcible" matters for applying for childcare assistance, why shouldn't it matter when trying to have an abortion? Why shouldn't it matter when applying for a restraining order? It's death by a thousand paper cuts.

Further, "forcible rape" is a term that is offensive in its oblivious redundancy. It's like saying "artificial prosthesis" or "join together" or "I personally think," but 1000 times more likely to make me want to jump off of something high onto something pointy.

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[RHReality Check]

Image via spirit of america/Shutterstock

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DISCUSSION

What fresh fuckery is this? I think we're being collectively prank'd by every state south of the Mason-Dixon line. It's all so ridiculous now that I have no outrage left, only hysterical laughter. Because it's a joke, right? *Right?*

Also, why should I have to so much as inform the father of my child that he's even a father? If I lose the contraception gamble and decide not to terminate, I'd never inform the father. My cousin's ex-husband harasses and financially cripples her with pointless battles in court. One of my mother's best friends is now widowed and raising her grandchild because her daughter's seemingly normalsauce ex-husband shot her daughter and her own husband in the head after he lost the legal battle over where their daughter would attend school. Bitches be crazy or whatever, but apparently dudes be sociopaths. Women shouldn't have to seek child support if they want nothing to do with their babydaddies, especially if that babydaddy is a fucking date rapist.

ETA: What if you don't know the identity of your child's father? I don't mean that as a slam on low-income women; Lord knows I've had some wild months after breakups. But really, are Maury and Jerry Springer going to do month-long specials on behalf of New Mexican women desperate for financial support? They could be humiliated on national television and then be rewarded with years of legal battles for some fraction of the child support they're owed instead of some basic public services. Terrific. I'll watch that when I need a good long cry.