After creating a stir Wednesday, Republican Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona sought to walk back his claim that the incidence of pregnancy from rape is “very low.”
Franks now tells TPM via his office that he only intended to point out that it’s rare that pregnancies due to rape are terminated after the 20th week.
“Pregnancies from rape that result in abortion after the beginning of the sixth month are very rare,” Franks said in a statement sent to TPM. “This bill does not address unborn children in earlier gestations. Indeed, the bill does nothing to restrict abortions performed before the beginning of the 6th month.”
Franks made his controversial remark at a Judiciary Committee meeting on his legislation to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, while urging colleagues to reject a Democratic amendment making an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
“The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,” the congressman said. “When you make that exception, there’s usually a requirement to report the rape within 48 hours. And in this case, that’s impossible because this is in the sixth month of gestation. And that’s what completely negates and vitiates the purpose of such an amendment.”
Franks’ spokesman clarified to TPM what he was trying to say.
“The intention was to comment on the number of abortions that occur at the 6th month and beyond (when the bill would take effect) as a result of rape, NOT the incidence of pregnancy from rape,” said Ben Carnes, “though I know that’s what’s being reported.”
The remark was initially reported by the Washington Post and created a stir on social media. House Democrats immediately used it to clobber other Republicans. Massachusetts GOP Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez called Franks a “moron” for his comment. It brought back memories of Republicans Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, who damaged their party by making extremely controversial and factually inaccurate claims about rape and pregnancy last year.
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