To the editor:
Mailers have been sent to residents in the 41st District from the Kansans for Life organization that contain falsehoods and spread lies regarding my voting record as your Kansas representative. It is time to correct those lies. KFL claims I have voted to spend tax dollars to pay for abortions. I have never done so, period. In fact, federal law prohibits it and we have a Kansas law against it.
The current constitutional amendment language does not protect the life of a mother facing a life-threatening pregnancy. This is most important to me. I would never agree to an amendment that would condemn a pregnant woman to die and leave her remaining children motherless, possibly orphaned, because she was forced to carry a life-endangering pregnancy. The long-term, harmful effects on those motherless children are unimaginably cruel.
Five key points guided my decision on this proposed amendment:
1. Most importantly, when we change our Constitution and cede fundamental rights to the government, it must have clear boundaries and clear protections in cases of rape, incest or endangerment of the mother’s life. This amendment fails to do that and would give the Legislature absolute authority to remove those protections at any time.
2. State and federal law already prevents the expenditure of public money for abortions, and nothing about the April 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling changes that. Anyone who denies this is just trying to rally outrage.
3. Despite the recent ruling, the Legislature is still free to, and has, set reasonable regulations, restrictions and protections around abortion. After consultation with the Attorney General’s office, we determined that the Court’s ruling does not prohibit all regulation from the Legislature as has been falsely argued. This amendment would grant broad and wide-sweeping power to government, without setting appropriate boundaries to protect women.
4. While true that the proposed amendment does not directly alter specific abortion legislation at this time, it instead carves out an area of the Constitution giving the Legislature pre-eminent authority to make laws that can’t effectively be reviewed by the courts. This amendment removes the judiciary as a critical check and balance in our three-branch government.
5. Regarding the vote of the people, the resolution also specified the August primary as the date for the public to cast a ballot on this question. If we are going to modify our fundamental laws, we should resolve the question in the November 2020 general election, when nearly 70% of Kansans voters will cast a ballot.
I have heard passionate, well-articulated and well-reasoned arguments from both sides of this. I am proud of how Leavenworth has conducted itself in engaging their government on this important question. However, we have been inundated with materials from outside our area in effort to obfuscate this issue, I believe for political reasons.
Unfortunately, they are using these mailers and ads to hide the fact that they support forcing victims of rape and incest to bear their rapist’s children by excluding from their constitutional amendment any exemptions for those women and young girls victimized by such heinous acts. Their lies would trick citizens into punishing female victims of violent crimes twice.
These special interest groups know my position on this. Therefore, it makes me wonder why both chambers in Topeka are so strongly opposed to adding such protections for women and girls to the amendment to get the votes it needs for passage. They stand as intransigent extremists, refusing to budge. These groups rely on bullying and threats, and have damaged their position more than aiding it.
Rep. Jeff Pittman represents the 41st District of the Kansas House of Representatives.