June 12th, 2013
06:28 PM ET
10 months 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. Pete

    Franks,its not phrasology its just being dumb..You republicans the supposid religious ones can't seem to get your feet out of theirs mouths saying things you obviously don't know people will object too ..Now Franks is on the hot seat and its getting hotter and let's see if democrates do to him as his party has done to Dems recently and its all fair in politics as in war,nothing new just the names only been changed that's all!

    June 12, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  2. Angela

    Waiting 6 months to have an abortion is wrong. I don't believe in abortion at all, however, I thought that both sides could agree that at 6 months, a baby in the womb looks and can feel like any infant. Those last 3 or 4 months in the womb just help the baby get bigger and develop their organs enough to survive outside. There is no way a fully formed human embryo at 6 months does not feel pain. That is murder. Its not a clump of cells anymore with no brain. You can't keep your mouth shut about a rape and then turn around 6 months later and say you were raped for the sole purpose of having an abortion late-term.

    June 12, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  3. jamesfoley

    I am not beholden to either party; so, here goes...
    Rape doesn't just involve the physical body; it also involves the mind [of the victim]. This may be considered an unreasonable seizure if women are forced to carry a child to term that has been conceived by an act of rape or coercion. As a male, and a father, I am disgusted with the notion of prostitutes using abortion as a form of birth control, jilted lovers using it as a form of revenge, and loose women using it as their plan B [especially when a Plan B pill is now available over the counter], not to mention the fact that this abortion carte blanche is a slap in the face to good men who are truly being punished for what bad men have done. To say that isn't one element of the Roe V. Wade decision is naive in the extreme.
    All that being said, to say that pregnancy resulting from rape is very low is moronic. We all know that sex produces offspring, whether the sex is ill gotten or not, that is the primary function of sex. We know that there are uncommon cases where sex does not produce offspring [I speak ignoring contraceptives of course], but that is the exception rather than the rule. We have known this since before mankind wrote or read. It has been the natural order of our planet since time immemorial. This goes to the truth to those who support Roe V. Wade as well.

    June 12, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  4. RINO Bil

    Let's see, Republicans are stalling on the immigration legislation and "stupid" is still running rampant with Rep. Franks currently leading the charge. Oh, and blaming the Dems for "spinning" his ignorant comments is so standard as to be boring.

    It's still business as usual for the GOP.

    June 12, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  5. anon

    Distraction Theater. Pass this story up. Next big thing is the EPA targeting over 80,000 individual farmers and leaking their data to environmental lawyers.

    June 12, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  6. Marv Crawford

    Is it just me or are the multitude of Republicans making blunders increasing?

    June 12, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  7. Jacky

    The gop is so obsessed with peoples private parts. this same week az gop was evaluating a bathroom bill around trans gender and which bathroom they should use. sick gop.

    June 12, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  8. jim atmad

    How on God's green earth are there more than 20 people in the entire country who would vote for somebody like this?

    June 12, 2013 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  9. DPB

    "Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California. There's no scientific basis for that"

    We have statistics for everything thing in the world...these stats should be available...lets look it up and get the numbers. Just get the numbers on the table. If we find the number is high...then so be it...if the number is extremely low...then so be it...but it would put an end to the finger pointing...

    June 12, 2013 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  10. Facts Maghee

    A simple google search will show the rate of pregnancy due to rape is about 5%. How is that not low? And how is he wrong?

    June 12, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  11. rude

    The GOP just does NOT want the women vote ever!!

    June 12, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  12. Keep It Coming

    Between these types of bills and the GOP killing the immigration bill, the Republican party is just ensuring years of defeats at the polls. You would think after the presidential election that they would stop playing to their base and start trying to include women voters and minorities. As a Democrat, I thank you GOP for these constant gifts. It looks like another big defeat is coming in mid-term elections!!

    June 12, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  13. polly

    Ahh yes...phrasology. The words you chose to use and the order you chose to use them caused confusion.

    June 12, 2013 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  14. TLORop

    Old fat men have no business writing legislation on rape and abortion.

    June 12, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  15. Dave R.

    Sounds like a Republican has stepped in it yet again. You would think that by now they would at least make an attempt to choose their words very carefully even though we all know they mean something else.

    June 12, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  16. moxjox

    "Open mount, insert foot..."
    GOP mantra. #1.

    "The Republican congressman told reporters that Democrats had instigated the whole controversy."
    GOP mantra #2

    June 12, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  17. Jeb

    He's lying. His rape comment is a commonly used GOP talking point.

    June 12, 2013 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  18. EducatedAmerican

    Just another example of how out of touch Republican lawmakers are with reality. And once again the message is basically the same- they are in effect, blaming the women for these unintended pregnancies (via rape or incest.) It is their punishment to have to carry these children to term. Tell me- what type of care do you think these offspring will receive if they are unwanted? Does it make ANY sense to force them to carry an unwanted child to term?

    There should ALWAYS be a clause in the case of rape or incest. If MEN were capable of carrying babies, this wouldn't even BE an issue.

    June 12, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  19. George Powell

    Hypocritical for people to talk about a fetus feeling pain (yet little if any cognitive ability) but show no concern about circumcision w/o anesthesia (a most sensitive part of the body) when the child is very aware of the injury coming from (imprinting on) adults like he is dependent upon for nurture.

    June 12, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  20. brit

    The rape thing? Yes congressman. it exists. Would you like me to tell you about it?

    June 12, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  21. Joe

    Todd Aiken's brother???

    June 12, 2013 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  22. What goes around comes around!

    Most rapes don't result in pregancy as most rapists use a condom to avoid leaving evidenc behind and even when no condom is used, it is unlikely that the woman was ovulating at the time of rape and even if she was ovulating most rapists ejaculate once and leave as they need to get away as soon as possible and just one ejaculation has less than 5% chance of resulting in pregnancy and that too when the woman is ovulating.

    And also even if a woman was raped, there is no reason she could not take Plan B to prevent pregnancy rather than an abortion and even if she wants an abortion, there is no reason to wait for more than 6 months before deciding that she was raped and hence she wants to get an abortion. Every abortion for which rape is given as a reason must be investigated as rape (the evidence is already in the baby) and if turns out to not have been rape, then the woman should be charged with murder. A woman should not be able to claim that she was raped without police report and medical evidence to back it up. Too often a woman who claims rape as a reason for abortion know whose baby it is (current or former boyfriend or husband) and yet there is no police report, no medical evidence, no nothing that backs up her claim.

    In this post, I am not arguing that abortion is wrong (which it is) but that rape is falsely claimed as a reason for abortion. Why can't she just say that she does not want a baby as a reason instead of giving a lie for a reason to make her look as a victim rather than a perpetrator? Pepetrator of the baby's murder. In cases of alleged rape, Plan B must be administered automatically unless the woman wants to keep any baby/ies resulting from the alleged rape and even if the Plan B failed, any abortion must be done within 2 weeks of the alleged rape and if not, then the woman must be forced to give birth even if she does not want to raise the baby – adoption is always an option.

    June 12, 2013 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  23. Former GOP

    .......Oh,......that makes it OK to rape then........right GOP?

    June 12, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  24. felixgiordano

    I find this excerpt from Rep Franks comments to be more incredulous than the excerpt that this story is based upon:

    "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."

    A daughter, girlfriend, coed student, or coworker may never be inclined to report a rape within the six month time frame due to fear of abuse or retribution from the rapist. Once again, the GOP proves beyond a doubt that conservative men should not be writing law that interferes with a woman's decision on what to do with her own body.

    June 12, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  25. Terry Helton

    Just another example of worthless pols wasting time on so-called so issues instead of rolling up their sleeves and getting busy putting people back to work. There is no debt crisis. There's a jobs crisis.

    June 12, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
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