U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins is chasing the mythical dragon of taxpayer-funded abortions. The Kansas congresswoman is one of 173 co-sponsors of the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act."
If the resolution's name isn't clear enough, the act would prohibit federal money from paying for abortions with a few exceptions (rape, incest and or the life of the
mother is threatened). Except, regarding the whole rape part, House members wanted to change the wording from "rape" to "forcible rape." Uh, all rape is forced.
Abortion-rights advocates feared the addition of the modifier "forcible"
would exclude statutory rape or a rape occurring after the victim was drugged or unconscious or threatened. Lawmakers apparently figured out how stupid it was to add the word "forcible" to an act that in every instance is forced, and decided to drop the word, according to Politico.
Of course, there's still a lot of outrage, and this website catalogs everything that's wrong with the bill. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman told Mother Jones that she considered the bill "a violent act against women."
Jon Stewart and Kristen Schaal mocked the changes on last night's Daily
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Victim Abortion Funding
congresswoman's position to the Lawrence Journal-World:
Jenkins may have opposed taxpayer-funded abortions, but they're pretty rare. Amy Sullivan wrote a piece for Time's political blog, Swampland, titled "The non-problem of false rape claims for Medicaid abortions." Really, there are barely any abortions being paid for by Medicaid. Sullivan writes:
"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
Lipinski stated: "The Hyde Amendment allows for taxpayer funding of
abortion in very limited cases, including if the pregnancy is the result
"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."
So that scourge of false rape reports--or even, let's say, "non-forcible" rapes? It doesn't exist. I couldn't find numbers more recent than 2001, but these shocked me. In that year, the total number of abortions covered by Medicaid was 56. That's all abortions for cases in which the mother's life was in danger, the pregnancy was a result of incest, or in the case of rape. Another 25 were covered by state Medicaid programs. Even assuming that every single one of those abortions was to end a pregnancy caused by rape, that's 81 abortions paid for in part with taxpayer dollars. Nationwide. That's roughly $32,000 total for first trimester procedures.
But if you want to be a dick, and Jenkins does (along with fellow Kansas Congressmen Mike Pompeo and Tim Huelskamp and Missouri Reps. Sam Graves, Jo Ann Emerson, Vicky Hartzler and Blaine Luetkemeyer), victims are an easy target. As Sullivan points out, let's not forget that "rape is consistently the most under-reported of all