Rep. Trent Franks sought to clarify comments he made in a hearing on his anti-abortion proposal Wednesday, during which he said he's opposed to an exception for rape victims because "the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low."
The Arizona Republican's remark quickly spread on social media, with some writers reportedly drawing comparisons to a statement made during the 2012 election by former GOP Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, who claimed that women cannot become pregnant from "legitimate rape."
Even Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez in Massachusetts took issue with Franks' remark.
"I think that he’s a moron and he proves that stupid has no specific political affiliation," he told ABC News
Franks' measure, "The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," would ban abortions after 20 weeks, according to The Huffington Post
. It would allow abortions after 20 weeks only for women who would die without one. It challenges a Supreme Court precedent that gives women the right to have an abortion until 24 weeks, when the fetus would be viable outside the womb.
Franks later tried to clarify his remark, telling Politico
, "My bill does nothing to restrict abortion even before the first five months, so all issues related to rape are long since dealt with."
He said Democrats "constantly want to inject" rape into the abortion debate and have done so ever since the original Roe v. Wade case, adding that by focusing on rape instead of "the child that was being killed," they try to change the dynamics of the debate.
"So sometimes Republicans get beat up for having to respond to it, but it's always the left that brings it up because it results in Republicans getting beat up by it," Franks said.
The GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee passed Frank's bill, which reportedly is to get a vote in the full House next week. Democrat Zoe Lofgren of California led the opposition against the measure and was the first to take issue with Franks' comments on abortion and rape, calling his assertion "astonishing," according to Politico.
"The idea that the Republican men on this committee think they can tell the women of America that they have to carry to term the product of a rape is outrageous," Lofgren said.
"Just to make clear my point earlier, pregnancies from rape that result in abortion after the beginning of the sixth month are very rare," Franks responded later in the hearing on his measure.
Lofgren, however, wouldn't let it go. "The suggestion that rape rarely leads to pregnancy has no basis in science or fact," she said.
"And I would just like to point out the fact that I never made such a suggestion," Franks countered.
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