June 12th, 2013
06:28 PM ET
2 years ago

Rep. Franks tries to clear up rape comment

(CNN) - Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, said he was taken out of context Wednesday and tried to clarify his controversial comment from a committee markup earlier in the day, when he said the "incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low."

Franks intended to say that the number of abortions due to rape after the start of the sixth month of gestation would be low, not the number of rapes resulting in pregnancy.

"I told my staff to fasten their seatbelts," Franks told reporters Wednesday, adding he knew Democrats would work to distort his comments.

But he conceded: "Unfortunately perhaps I assisted them a little bit in the phraseology that allowed them to do it."

Franks' original comment came during a discussion about his proposal to ban abortions after 20 weeks, a time at which he says research indicates unborn children can begin to feel pain.

Abortion was legalized in all 50 states in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Statutory time limits on when abortions can take place, however, vary from state to state.

When asked about exceptions for cases of rape or incest, Franks said at the hearing it was "flawed" logic to think a pregnant woman would wait six months to report a rape.

"To say that we wait until then, to say that there's a rape or incest involved, is waiting too long," he said, adding that laws need to be tougher on rapists.

When he was asked why his legislation does not include a requirement that rape be reported–as for exception cases in other abortion laws–Franks replied with his controversial comment.

"Before, when my friends on the left side of the aisle here tried to make rape and incest the subject- because you know the, the incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low, but 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," he added.

Franks later told reporters that after the committee markup on Wednesday, he met with House GOP leaders to discuss the situation and said "they are certainly not dissuaded." While he didn't give names on who exactly he met with, he said it was the "highest echelon of leadership."

His comments were a reminder to some of other statements made about rape and pregnancy by Republican candidates last year–namely Republican Rep. Todd Akin, who was running for the U.S. Senate in Missouri when he argued a woman's body was capable of preventing pregnancy during cases of "legitimate rape."

A fellow member of Congress jumped on Franks' remark later during the hearing Wednesday.

"I just find it astonishing to hear a phrase repeated that the incidence of pregnancy from rape is low," said Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California. "There's no scientific basis for that. And the idea that the Republican men on this committee can tell the women of America that they have to carry to term the product of a rape is outrageous."

National Democratic groups have also pounced on the statement, sending emails to reporters to highlight the remark and issuing disapproving statements.

Franks later noted on his Facebook page that the Judiciary Committee passed his bill by a vote of 20 in favor to 12 opposed.

"I look forward to a floor vote on the bill," he wrote.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the committee passage of the bill proves that Republicans are "out of touch and extreme."

"This is yet another attempt by the Republican Party to overturn Roe v. Wade. Republicans passed the bill along a party-line vote, and they are expected to send the bill to the full House for a vote next week," she said in a statement, which also criticized Franks.

The Republican congressman told reporters that Democrats had instigated the whole controversy.

"The rape thing was something the Democrats injected. I never would have dealt with that issue. Our bill doesn't deal with that because it's the beginning of the six month [of pregnancy]."

He said Democrats are trying to shift the debate. "That was their goal – was to make something other than the issue the issue and I think that they have had some success in that regard and people are a lot brighter...They will talk about anything other than six month babies being tortuously murdered."


Filed under: Abortion • House
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. Former GOP

    ...Wanna know HOW TO BEAT THE Tea Party GOP.?
    .
    .........................................LET THEM TALK........................

    June 13, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  2. Jean-Sartre

    "Sex education is required curriculum in Texas. "

    Yes, however, only abstinence is allowed to be taught; some "sex education."

    The worshipping of Gov. Rick "Oops" Perry is also taught...

    June 13, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. RF

    But he conceded: "Unfortunately perhaps I assisted them a little bit in the phraseology that allowed them to do it."

    Not how does he blame this on the media?

    June 13, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  4. bev

    Funny to me that all of these republicans need interpreters for the English language. Mitt Romney needed a full time one–he never could get the English language across to the American people with his explanations & insults needing to be explained. But, this character blames the democrats when he is trying to back-track, amazing! Wonder how they would react if they had a young daughter who had been raped & became pregnant?

    June 13, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  5. bigbendjc

    2010 election mantra...JOBS JOBS JOBS. But the real agenda...ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION. The good citizens of this country consider the economy top priority. Any wonder why the congressional approval rating is in the low double digits. 1950's here we come!

    June 13, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  6. mike hunt

    Doesnt matter. His original statement was accurate none the less.

    June 13, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. JY

    This guy is right, it is not fair the democrats pounce on him for his comments taken completely out of context. That is how the GOP operates and the Democrats are intruding on their god given territory.

    Oh, it was a quote, never mind... :-O

    June 13, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. JonathanL

    The right side of the isle should call themselves the busy body party. I thought they didn't like regulation, but they seem to do more in the way of regulating individuals.

    June 13, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. John Patrick Grace

    I am all for limiting abortion as much as possible, but Franks does not help the case when he makes bumbling statements like this, and then blames the Democrats – in advance – for the distortions of his statement he is sure they will make – except
    "unfortunately I helped them a bit." Is this crazy or what?
    John Patrick Grace
    Huntington, West Virginia

    June 13, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. Laurie in Spokane

    Isn't it way past time to get past this abortion rights thing? Abortion was made legal in 1973 and ever since then there's been constant fighting, and violence, and debate over it. We as a country have more important things to deal with such as global warming, human trafficking, hunger, homelessness, health care reform, infrastructure maintenance, etc etc etc. Besides all that, NO government or archaic religion has the right to tell me what to do with MY body.

    June 13, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  11. skarphace

    Steve: "He said nothing wrong."

    Well, what he said was factually incorrect and was an insult to rape victims, but other than that, I guess not.

    June 13, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  12. chieftrainer

    It's amusing and sad at the same time to see all the condemning comments such as "stupid", "morally bankrupt", "fool", "idiot", "Neanderthal" ad infinitum as though the self-righteous "witty" put downs make any difference in life. This is not exclusive to the left. The exact same comments come from the right hurled at the left when the tables are turned. The art of debate is lost in the quest for moral superiority.

    June 13, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  13. ShawnDH

    Women will remember in 2014 November.

    June 13, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. skarphace

    What is the true message from these Teapublicans? Since a woman's body has the ability to shut itself down during rape, then a woman should not get pregnant if it was truly rape. If a woman does get pregnant, then it was merely alleged rape, and not true rape. God knows it was not truly rape, and has given a child to this desparate woman as a gift.

    What is the true agenda of these politicians? It is simple. They intend to make abortions illegal in all cases, including rape. They know that if they say it straight-up like that, though, that their message will not resonate. Therefore, they must discredit rape itself.

    June 13, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. skarphace

    marc: "wouldn't an article suggesting that his comment is out of bounds be obligated to show that the incident of pregnancies caused by rape is high?"

    Absolutely not. It does not matter how many pregnancies result from rape. The intention from these Republicans is to make enough voters to believe that a woman cannot get pregnant from the result of "legitimate" rape that Roe v Wade can finally be overturned and the "Personhood Amendment" (which the House has tried to pass many more times then they have voted on a budget), will change our Consti tution and make abortion illegal in every single case including rape and when the woman's life is in jeopardy.

    If you cannot see that, then you are blind.

    June 13, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. Debra Inglefield

    All the GOP seems to care about is making sure women pop out babies. Of course, once the kid is born, it's "you're on your own Can't have these irresponsible poor people just having kids so they get more welfare".

    June 13, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. JayneQP

    I mean, how hard is it to remember that women are sensitive about the one thing that defines them as women: steer clear of any commentary that undervalues our profound identification with our BODIES. We are taught and have (dare I say) evolved to expect to give up our bodies for the pleasure of others, to give birth, to feed and nurture others. This is OUR gift - individually, to accept or reject, and not fodder for the politically ambitious... in short, you psychologically "rape" women every time you presume to subjugate us.

    June 13, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    somebody wrote:

    5%. That is the rate of pregnancies that result from rape. 5%. According to the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. That's scientific proof, unlike what our esteemed Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California claims. 5% is pretty low according to everyone's definition of a low percent. The Dems/Libs will do anything to try and demonize people when it comes to this argument. Even when they are being accurate.
    --------------------–
    ??? What is the point being made here? It reminds me a lot of Mitt Romney saying he wasn't concerned about 47% of the people. Whatever happened to "liberty and justice for all"? So, it's "liberty and justice for just us", is that it?

    June 13, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. JayneQP

    I mean, how hard is it to remember that women are sensitive about the one thing that defines them as women: steer clear of any commentary that undervalues our profound identification with our BODIES. We are taught and have (dare I say) evolved to expect to give up our bodies for the pleasure of others, to give birth, to feed and nurture others. This is OUR gift – individually, to accept or reject, and not fodder for the politically ambitious... in short, you psychologically "r a p e" women every time you presume to subjugate us.

    June 13, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  20. Steve Hamilton

    Will the RNC stand by this misogynist, and try to blame the negative reaction to his statements on the Democrats? the Republican Party needs a damage control function with the authority to vett all speeches by electees or candidates before they are given.

    June 13, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. rs

    Josh

    Have any of these liberals on here bothered to do some research on this before they start spewing all their "Republicans are woman hat ers!!!!!" comments. 5%. That is the rate of pregnancies that result from rape. 5%. According to the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. That's scientific proof, unlike what our esteemed Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California claims. 5% is pretty low according to everyone's definition of a low percent. The Dems/Libs will do anything to try and demonize people when it comes to this argument. Even when they are being accurate.
    _______________________________
    So, let's say that is factual- are you treating this like some sort of God-awful lottery? "Gee, too bad you got raped, but for a lucky 5% of you, we'll actually have the government FORCE you to bear your rapist's child? Really? Are you THAT depraved? What if someone you actually care about is in that 5%- that doesn't change anything for you?

    June 13, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  22. chieftrainer

    Laurie in Spokane, "NO government or archaic religion has the right to tell me what to do with MY body"
    ----–
    It's convenient to form your argument as though you are the only person involved in making the decision. Like it or not, what you do with your body in the case of abortion results in the loss of a human life. We can debate using euphemistic terms such as fetus or zygote, but it is human that which gets destroyed.

    June 13, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  23. rs

    Republicans- putting the rights of rapists first!
    That is the message they give to sane America- that is the message women need to remember at the next election.

    June 13, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. Bob

    Funny how the GOP rail against all the "welfare mothers" but do everything in their power to create them. They deny women access to birth control and morning after pills. They deny pre-teens who would be in physical (and psychological) danger the right to terminate a pregnancy even in the case of rape an incest. Then they have the nerve to bitch about all the "irresponsible single moms" dragging down the economy. Maybe if you didn't force "abstinence only" sex education in the states you control, you wouldn't have that issue. Statistics show when you limit sex education to solutions that don't (like abstinence) teen pregnancy sky rockets. Your only other "solution" is tell girls to marry their rapists (because one incident of abuse isn't enough for you idiots). Of course we know any time one of these GOP Congressman has a daughter that gets knocked up, they have them whisked away (probably at tax payer expense) overseas to have a nice, private abortion in Switzerland (they'll call it "studying abroad").

    June 13, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  25. Leeford

    So I want to join the GOP....do I have to have my own rape theories or can I just vote present?

    June 13, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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