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Rape: Surprisingly NOT Like Having a Flat Tyre, Actually

Meet Representative Pete DeGraaf of Kansas, if you haven’t already. Pete apparently believes that rape is 1. Inevitable and 2. A lot like having your car break down by the side of the freeway. In a debate on the House floor discussing a proposal to ban abortion coverage in health insurance policies, when another representative brought up concerns about rape survivors, this is what he had to say:

“We do need to plan ahead, don’t we, in life?”

Bollier asked him, “And so women need to plan ahead for issues that they have no control over with a pregnancy?”

DeGraaf drew groans of protest from some House members when he responded, “I have spare tire on my car.”

“I also have life insurance,” he added. “I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for.” (as reported in the Hartford Courant)

This is an interesting departure from the usual rhetoric about how rape victims should just carry pregnancies to term; evidently, they should ‘plan ahead’ to prevent the pregnancy from ever happening in the first place! If that logic is going to be accepted at face value, then surely conservatives should be jumping at the opportunity to provide low-cost access to contraception for all potential rape victims…oh wait. And they should be supporting access to sex education in schools so students know about methods they can use to prevent unwanted pregnancies. And, of course, they should be reminding rapists to always stop and put a condom on first.

Because obviously preventing rape would just be silly.

The problem here isn’t that people rape people, you see, it’s that rape victims/survivors don’t plan ahead.

The ongoing twisted machinations conservatives will use to deny access to reproductive justice just in general are really quite astounding, but this particular instance may just take the cake for the month. ‘Compassionate’ conservatives who believe people shouldn’t have access to contraception and other reproductive health tools want to assure us that of course there should be an ‘exception for rape or the life of the mother,’ while the rest of them just tell us that rape is your fault to begin with, so you ought to make lemonade and have that baby anyway. And now, apparently, not only is the rape your fault, but so is the unwanted and unplanned pregnancy that might result because, you know, you really ought to have made sure your spare tyre was inflated. Or something.

What’s, uhm, particularly interesting about this debate, in light of the fact that DeGraaf thinks that people should ‘plan ahead,’ is that it surrounded, of course, a ban on providing insurance coverage for abortions. People who buy health insurance, planning ahead for the unexpected events that might happen in their lives, might reasonably expect that in return for their planning, they would get actual insurance coverage, because that is what insurance is for. Banning the sale of policies that cover abortion has a not insignificant impact on a number of consumers who might need an abortion, for whatever reason.

DeGraaf thinks that people should be forced to buy separate insurance policies to cover abortions; I’m curious to know if he thinks that drivers should purchase separate policies for front-end collisions, a not uncommon event experienced by a broad variety of drivers who would probably expect to have them covered by their insurance. Who might not stop to read a policy closely to make sure it does cover such events, given their frequency.

We live in a world where people experiencing miscarriages will be left to bleed out without treatment because no ‘health care provider’ wants to provide health care. And we live in a world where people who ‘plan ahead’ to prevent unwanted pregnancy sometimes experience rape and get pregnant anyway, even with all that planning. And when we talk about the fact that abortion saved our lives, we’re told that we should have died. So forgive me if I am less than impressed with any suggestion that access to abortion and reproductive health services should be restricted in any way, let alone a suggestion that compares rape to having a breakdown on the 101.

It’s things like this that remind me of what little value a body like mine has in this society, that a legislator, an elected representative speaking for a constituency that probably includes people with bodies like mine, feels entirely comfortable comparing a violating act of brutality to car repair issues.

Kansas NOW is concerned that Rep. DeGraaf might not be prepared for his next automotive emergency, and they’re asking for donations to help him out.


  1. kpants wrote:

    The other failure within his metaphor, “I also have life insurance,” is that death is a certainty. It will happen. To everyone. We expect it as an inevitable and natural event.

    Rape should not happen; rape should never be expected to happen or treated as an inevitable event. Rape is a crime.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink
  2. GoodGravey wrote:

    Wow. And I thought our politicians were bad ( but this, just wow.

    Of course the solution to rape culture and the epidemic of rape is for women to prepare for it.

    And we gotta start them young, of course. All these 11 and 12 year old girls raped by their relatives and “getting pregnant” have to learn to cope with it, don’t they.

    What the hell is so hard about it? The only way of preventing rape is for rapists not to do it. Period!

    Then we have all the crap about slut-shaming in our media regarding school-girl abortions (


    Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink
  3. Dolly wrote:

    If we silly women would just realize that by having vaginas we are asking for rape, we’d stop standing in the way of what these brilliant men are trying to accomplish!
    Being raped is like having to change a tire. Huh. I don’t like changing tires, but having to do so never gave me panic attacks for a year afterwards or necessitated taking tranquilizers or seeing a counselor either. I hope this guy never gets raped because no-one deserves that, but I imagine he would change that stupid tune he was singing pretty quick if he ever even had an inkling of what it was like.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink
  4. Glauke wrote:

    When I read that comment “well, you plan ahead” I keep thinking: that’s what planned parenthood is for. And then I realise he’s talking about rape.

    Friday, May 27, 2011 at 6:57 am | Permalink