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About (Late) Last Night: 'The Daily Show' takes on House anti-abortion bill

February 3, 2011 |  7:42 am
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rape Victim Abortion Funding
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Last night on "The Daily Show," after two segments about the ongoing unrest in Egypt -- including Anderson Cooper's well-publicized dust-up with a gang of protesters -- Jon Stewart switched to matters domestic. Specifically, it was time to discuss a newly unveiled House bill, titled the "No Taxpayer Fundings for Abortion Act."

The proposed bill, Stewart explained, "seeks to undo a long-standing compromise that allows federal funding for abortions in extreme cases, like rape." If passed, the bill would allow federal funding only in cases of so-called "forcible rape." It's a distinction that, some critics believe, could alter the legal definition of rape by possibly excluding things such as statutory rape, or attacks that occur when a woman is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Kristen Schaal, the show's "senior women's issues correspondent" -- and, in my opinion, easily its funniest female star -- was on the case. "You'd be surprised how many drugged, underage, or mentally handicapped young women have been gaming the system," she began. "Sorry ladies, the free abortion ride is over!"

Of course, Schaal was -- do I really need to point this out? -- being ironic. "In truth, there's a whole rainbow of rape," she argued, tongue planted firmly in cheek. "There's 'rape,' and there's 'rape-rape.'

"I don't think hard-earned tax dollars should go to women who are only 'raped-ish,'" she said.

Stewart, dutifully performing his role as the straight man, asked how much money was really on the line -- in other words, would this bill have a real financial impact, or was it largely a symbolic gesture?

Schaal responded that, in 2006, federal funds helped pay for 191 abortions for victims of rape or incest, or women whose health was at risk. Fiddling with an abacus, she declared, "That works out to two-tenths of a penny per taxpayer."

"Kristen, people's taxes go towards things they don't believe in all the time," Stewart argued, citing his own disagreement with the taxpayer-funded Iraq war.

"That's war," Schaal said matter-of-factly.

"Really, cause I really thought that might have just been 'war-ish,'" he replied. 

Even for "The Daily Show," this was unusually brutal satire. Do you think it was effective?

--Meredith Blake