Pennsylvania Bill Includes Provision Requiring Women To Prove They Were Raped

A bill in the Pennsylvania House proposing the reduction of welfare benefits for low-income women contains a provision requiring a woman who became pregnant from rape to prove that she reported her assault.

As ThinkProgress reported, the measure, proposed by four Republicans and one Democrat, seeks to eliminate an increase in benefits if a child is conceived while a woman is covered under the Temporary Assistance To Needy Family program. A woman can seek an exception to this if the child is conceived as a result of rape. However, she must prove that she reported the incident to the authorities and gave the police her assaulter's identity. The bill reads:

Elimination of benefits under subsection (d) shall not apply to any child conceived as a result of rape or incest if the department: (1) receives a non-notarized, signed statement from the pregnant woman stating that she was a victim of rape or incest, as the case may be, and that she reported the crime, including the identity of the offender, if known, to a law enforcement agency having the requisite jurisdiction or, in the case of incest where a pregnant minor is the victim, to the county child protective service agency and stating the name of the law enforcement agency or child protective service agency to which the report was made and the date such report was made.

According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, 54 percent of rapes and sexual assaults are not reported to the police.

Last month, New Mexico's Children, Youth and Families Department considered a similar measure that would have only exempted victims of "forcible rape" from having to file child support claims against an absent parent. Gov. Susana Martinez (R) quickly pulled the "forcible" language after the proposal sparked backlash.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the bill was proposed by five Republicans.

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