June 12th, 2013
06:28 PM ET
9 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. CJB

    @ Larry L – Sex education is required curriculum in Texas. I don't know the last time you went to school – but you seem to need an education.

    The libs are the ones that hate women – look how Obama keeps throwing his under the bus – HC, S Rice....

    June 13, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  2. yogi

    So what's new? Just another day, and another Republican makes a stupid comment. It is so difficult for them to prevent saying publicly what they say privately. Wouldn't it be great if they would put the same energy in creating jobs bills as they do in legislating abortion?

    June 13, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  3. RettasVegas

    High school kids are more educated in reproduction than these old men!
    How do these guys get elected I'll never understand. We need to make our ploticians take a basic ed course in heath, before allowing them to take office.
    I feel so very sorry for the women in their lives, but I guess they keep them uneducated as well, must be home schooled.
    These are the same ignorant men who fight to keep sex ed out of public schools, then complain about welfare moms, and abortion right.
    When will they ever catch up with the REAL world, and accept SCIENCE as a fact!
    2016 elections will hopefully AGAIN, show them they are not the majority, and we will not have their stupidy in public office, making laws that harm women, and keep them as 2nd hand citizens.
    The same men who vote down equal pay for women doing the same work as men, they disgust me!

    Independent voter

    June 13, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  4. Cynic

    Not so amazing that the stupidest things said about rape come from Republicans. You know: people who believe in small government but think that they and the government have a right to legislate (and pontificate about) private behavior. Not so amazing either that the stupidest things said about rape come from men. I'd really be amazed if a Republican ever said something about a CEO's obligation to conduct his business within a moral and socially responsible constraint.

    June 13, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  5. K -- AZ

    Not to change the subject about stupid AZ congressman, but you can go on GAWKER & see the racist posts tweeted by Mormon Senator Jeff Flake's (AZ) son over his bike being stolen. This pretty much covers the hypocrisy of the Republican party members. It would seem they're teaching their children to follow in their footsteps.

    June 13, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. Veeblefester

    The latest entry in the RW nujob alternate reality sweepstakes is that back alley abortions never took place before abortion was legalized. Or, if they did happen, it wasn't that often, or as bad as people say it was.

    June 13, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. RCM

    After each idiot makes their stupid comment there is always a retraction that what they said was taken out of content and they really said something else.

    June 13, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. Hamburger Jones

    "I can't see any valid reason for a woman who was raped to wait 5 months" Yeah, but luckily for women, it ain't up to you to decide for them. You aren't a woman, if you were raped you'd have no worries, and you have no idea what you are talking about. Women sometimes kill themselves over a rape instead of proudly reporting it and posting it as a Facebook status. This is real life, not a tv show.
    God DANG it Republicans, stop acting like the cheap villains on the old Batman show. We don't need Snidely Whiplash tying our girls to the railroad track; get back to working on America's problems and forget about its ovaries.

    June 13, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  9. rs

    "Democrats don't want people to be allowed to manage their own healthcare as follows –"
    Wrong! Democrats want the average American to be able to AFFORD health care- something 40% of Americans cannot do at the moment. Our great nation has the lowest access to helathcare of any First-World nation, and lags behind many in the Third.

    June 13, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. yogi

    Democrats will take any Republicans' comment about rape out of context for the sake of advancing their political agenda. It's a shame we can't have a productive conversation about it anymore. The ability to have a discussion about a controversial issue has deteriorated because of media and partisan politics.
    "deteriorated because of media and partisan politics". You are very generous, but to expect any "productive " conversation from Republicans, and "fair and balanced" news from Fox, is where the real problem is.

    June 13, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. Hamburger Jones

    "After each idiot makes their stupid comment there is always a retraction that what they said was taken out of content and they really said something else."
    Sarah Palin held a press conference to announce that she had NOT misspoken about Paul Revere, who she said rode out to warn the British that we were coming so they better not try to take our guns, and that he warned them by firing a gun and ringing a bell as he rode a horse. Thanks to him, the British avoided our ambush and that's why he is a hero,according to Sarah Palin's History.

    June 13, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. rs


    The last stats that I've heard is 1 pregnancy in 17,000 sexual assaults.
    Dead right. That was what the Nazis found when they performed experiments on the women in their conetration camps.Aside from the fact that you might consider this "sound" research, just for giggles- what if your wife or your daughter was the one? You think it is a good use of federal power to FORCE her to actually have that baby?

    June 13, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. rs

    Democrats will take any Republicans' comment about rape out of context for the sake of advancing their political agenda. It's a shame we can't have a productive conversation about it anymore.
    We'll talk when it's your daughter, and we'll see how open you might be to abortion then- Sure, putting the rapist' right, and the "right" of a pile of cells ahead of a real-live female human victim. Think about that for a minute or two.

    June 13, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  14. Ron in SC

    Did you ever wonder why the GOP/Tea Party is always clarifying comments or positions? They suffer from extreme foot in mouth extremist self serving views.

    June 13, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. bill

    These GOP fools sure have a tough time keeping their private and public stories straight. Sure makes it tough when what the GOP says is different than what they do.

    June 13, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. bp

    Neanderthals still walk the earth. One of them goes under the name of Trent Franks.

    June 13, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  17. bill

    In Rep. Frank's defense, he thought he was speaking to Fox News.

    June 13, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. Jobu

    Come on, who's surprised?

    We all hate 'em. But they seem to control the purse strings, don't they?
    Now why is that???

    June 13, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  19. rs

    Neanderthals still walk the earth. One of them goes under the name of Trent Franks.

    Thus proving evolutio! 🙂

    June 13, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  20. Michael

    @CJB – Are you SURE you're thinking about party referring to who hates women? I don't see the dems always trying to limit a woman's reproductive rights; I don't see the dems blasting any and every woman up for a position. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see the GOP/TP go after restricting a woman's right to an equal education. Sad state of affairs ...

    June 13, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  21. Hamburger Jones

    "We all hate 'em. But they seem to control the purse strings, don't they? Now why is that???"

    1. We don't all hate women. It's just you.
    2. "control the purse strings" You still live with your mom? Get a job.

    June 13, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  22. Steven Colo

    I love how he blames his initial remark on the Dems and then says the Dems will use his stupidity for political gain.

    June 13, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  23. Patrick

    A Republican male making uninformed and insulting comments about rape that they know nothing about? NO WAI!!!

    June 13, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. fsjunkie

    He sticks his foot in his mouth and blames Democrats? He even knew that he was likely to say something asinine before he even said it. Own up to your actions. I'm so tired of this spineless, morally bankrupt GOP.

    June 13, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. 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.

    June 13, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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