SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) - A New Mexico official on Monday said the state removed the word “forcible” from the description of rape in a proposed change to a regulation setting out the conditions under which a parent could qualify for state child care assistance.
The word was removed after critics highlighted the term in the wake of a controversy over Missouri Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin’s comment that women have natural defenses that prevent pregnancy from “legitimate rape.”
Following media attention, Governor Susana Martinez last week took out the word “forcible,” said Enrique Knell, spokesman for New Mexico’s Children Youth and Families Department.
“The governor felt it wasn’t necessary. The word forcible was redundant,” Knell said.
The wording was part of a proposed update of a regulation that requires a single parent seeking state child care assistance to first seek money from the other parent. Exemptions to the law include cases where the parent was subject to domestic violence, stalking or rape. In those cases it could be dangerous to seek assistance from the other parent.
Knell said the language was taken from a federal law, although the exact law was not specified.
“Rape is rape, and there can be no qualifiers attached to it,” said Carol McFall, executive director of the Albuquerque rape crisis center. “This is old language that needs to be removed from our discussions of rape. It is a slippery slope in which individuals who are assaulted are revictimized by the law if they didn’t fight back, protest loud enough, or say ‘no.'”
New Mexico’s child care assistance helps provide child care to about 20,000 children of low income parents at a cost of roughly $87 million dollars a year.
Editing by Greg McCune and Cynthia Osterman