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. motorfirebox

    This country has spent over 40 years struggling with the question of abortion, but apparently if a woman can't figure it all out inside four and a half months there's something wrong with her.

    June 12, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  2. The fact of the matter

    "Unfortunately perhaps I assisted them a little bit in the phraseology that allowed them to do it." ... and you're still claiming that your remark(s) was taken "out of context"?

    June 12, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  3. SwingState

    Take full responsibility. These words came from you.

    June 12, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  4. john

    CNN is good at amplifying things out of context. good job!

    June 12, 2013 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  5. thesauros

    The last stats that I've heard is 1 pregnancy in 17,000 sexual assaults.

    June 12, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  6. Joe M.

    The Pope should just ask God and get a direct answer. But, I believe it is due to both God and the Pope being too busy to discussion abortion. There are so many other topics to talk about with God. I wonder what they talk about. I wish I could listen in on a conversation between the Pope and God.

    June 13, 2013 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  7. colin in Florida

    Just another politician proving how stupid they are. How do these morons get elected? I wonder if this one can walk and talk simultaneously?

    June 13, 2013 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  8. merle mcclung

    When are these stupid GOP going to stop inflicting their lack of brains on the women of this nation, and when are voters going to dump these idiots from Congress? This 20-weeks restriction have already been struck down by the courts, so they are exposing they are stupid with no true goal in mind except political pandering.

    To think these DAs are allowed to make decisions about women's lives - please, get them out of Congress.

    June 13, 2013 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  9. Bob Burke

    As an Arizona resident I am absolutely appalled at Trent Franks...not just this comment, but the fact he is a do nothing Congressman who gets elected by going to all the churches in his district and preaching to the choir that is he anti-choice. He is not pro-life – he is pro birth. To hell with what happens after they are born.

    June 13, 2013 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  10. George

    OMG another GOP politician making an absurd comment about rape. The motivation, to outlaw abortion, saying even rape is not a legitimate excuse. Meanwhile they block laws requiring background checks and limit the size of magazines. that's pro-life in a nutshell. I guess the big difference is women choosing who gets to live versus men. Women, you don't get to make that decision, that's for men only. Because it has only been men who have carried out these tragic massacres.

    June 13, 2013 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  11. CRG

    I hope for the future of the GOP, the party will rid itself of this extremely reactionary element in the next election. I have never seen so much ignorance and stupidity in my 70 years as a citizen of this country. In my state of Indiana, we lost, and the country lost, one of the finest legislators in recent history when one of these imbeciles with support from the Tea Party defeated Senator Richard Lugar in the Republican primary last year.

    June 13, 2013 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  12. Seola

    I would have guessed he was talking about the pregnancies resulting from rape carried to the 6th month of gestation since that was the topic and his remarks all around it were on the topic of LATE term abortion. The fact the Dems have blown it up to act like an attack on the whole of women everywhere is absurd. And while they blast the GOP for making note of all the actual problems and "politicizing" about a dozen scandals now... but turn around and all their funds, fundraising, campaigning and PACS all jumped on the words to raise cash off it is baffling there are people still believing in them and making excuses for them, while saying far more serious and factual things the Repubs bring up is "bad".

    Perhaps even more absurd is the statement that "Republican men" are trying to control women – uhm, there's Democrat men in there voting too. Bart Stupak was a Democrat against abortion and HE along with several others were the holdouts on Obamacare over abortion funding (even though Obama blamed the GOP). SHOCK! Yes, there are Democrats who want to abolish abortion just as there are Republicans who believe in abortion as well.

    But yeah, we'll totally say it's not okay for Republican men to vote or have legislation proposed based on things like babies feeling pain, based on reactions from the BABY and NOT the mother... so long as you have the right letter after your name, it's okay to vote. What about the Republican women who want abortion cut or eliminated? What about the Democrat women who want abortion cut or eliminated? What about the Republican women who support abortion?

    June 13, 2013 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  13. JennInGeorgia

    Wow, how shocking. A representative states the obvious (that pregnancy as the result of rape isn't the majority) and people get their undies in a bunch. If liberals don't want the obvious pointed out then perhaps every time the abortion debate comes up they shouldn't whine, "but what about raaaaapppeeee?!" Leave it to liberals to want it both ways. They want to use the rape excuse, but when someone says, "but those are rare cases" they get angry.

    June 13, 2013 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  14. skarphace

    "Sparks fly over lawmaker's rape remark."

    That is all I had to read in order to determine that this guy was a Republican.

    June 13, 2013 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  15. Chad

    What's so pathetic is that just by reading the headline link on the CNN home page about a "rape comment," I immediately and correctly assumed it had been made by a Republican man.

    These guys seriously never learn.

    June 13, 2013 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  16. jon

    Why are Republican men always so interested in not allowing abortions??? I guess they really like to see their women in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. Nice.

    June 13, 2013 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  17. charles

    "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."
    Ok, how can you take that out of content?? Must be ok if a Republican said it. Just let a Democrat, even worse, the President say that, and the house would be calling for 'IMPEACHMENT" and Congressional Hearings. Give me a break people. Its a Republican World. If your not Republican, your the enemy. Ok, I am just waiting for all the hostle replies I will get from this. lol, lmao at all this stupid stuff.

    June 13, 2013 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  18. charles

    "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." What is "Legitimate rape Rep Todd Akin? I thought anytype of Rape was illegal. And I thought it was now called "Sexual Assault".

    June 13, 2013 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  19. John

    Let it go. Mr. Franks did not say what he was trying to say, and that is all. That does not make him a Todd Akin. Now, argue with what he DID mean to say; that would be legitimate. Just don't waste our time with verbal errors, as though you had never done any yourself.

    June 13, 2013 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  20. Valentijn

    GOPs are so cute when they pretend they understand science.

    June 13, 2013 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  21. Joe Phx

    As an Arizonan republican and a man. Don't get in discussions about "flawed logic" when it comes to something you know nothing about. That is Being abused or raped as a woman. Look at the women in the Cleveland Ohio kidnapping rape murder case.. Could they have come forward in 48 hours. May be extreme but I personally know women who were abused and kept it secret for many many years. You are naive and embarrass me as Republican. Your inability to open your eyes and be reasonable is one reason why you have alienated our party from the common woman and the reasonable man.

    June 13, 2013 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  22. Joe Plumber

    In the words of Ronald Regan "There you go again". Republicans need to get out of the business of women's private parts, birth control, rape and abortion. Especially the men.

    June 13, 2013 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  23. hender1123

    A misquote by a Republican is by far the most important news of the past month or so.

    June 13, 2013 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  24. Thomas A. Hawk

    Rep Franks is a lawmaker. He's tasked with saying and writing exactly what he means without error. If he's doing his job, his comments shouldn't be open to distortion. Rep. Franks should take some personal responsibility for his lack of diligence.

    June 13, 2013 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  25. Klaark

    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.

    A classic Republican. You can tell by his complete lack of understanding when it comes to sexual violence.

    June 13, 2013 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
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