Topeka U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, is a co-sponsor of a bill that abortion rights supporters say would make it more difficult for some women who have become pregnant after being raped to end their pregnancies.
H.R. 3, called the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” would make permanent the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds for abortions except in cases of rape, incest and or the life of the mother is threatened. Currently, the amendment is subject to annual review.
But H.R. 3 also changes the “rape” exemption to “forcible rape.” Abortion rights advocates say using the term “forcible rape” could exclude statutory rape or rapes where the victim was drugged, unconscious or verbally threatened.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz, D-Fla., called the bill “nothing short of a violent act against women.”
H.R. 3 has been co-sponsored by 173 House members, including Jenkins, and U.S. Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler. U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, whose district includes east Lawrence, is not listed as a co-sponsor of the bill.
Jenkins represents the 2nd Congressional District, which includes west Lawrence.
When asked why Jenkins supported H.R. 3, her press secretary, Sean Fitzpatrick, said, “Congresswoman Jenkins has a long history of opposition to taxpayer-funded abortions and has joined 173 colleagues from both sides of the aisle to co-sponsor H.R. 3.” Of the 173 co-sponsors, 163 are Republicans and 10 are Democrats.
When asked why she supported the change in terms from “rape” to “forcible rape” in the bill, Fitzpatrick referred to a statement made by the lead Democratic sponsor of the bill, U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois.
Lipinski stated: “The Hyde Amendment allows for taxpayer funding of abortion in very limited cases, including if the pregnancy is the result of rape.
“The language of H.R. 3 was not intended to change existing law regarding taxpayer funding for abortion in cases of rape, nor is it expected that it would do so. Nonetheless, the legislative process will provide an opportunity to clarify this should such a need exist.”
The bill would also prohibit employers and those who are self-insured from using tax breaks to buy private health insurance that covers abortion.