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. Rickapolis

    We all know that when Akin made his foolishremarks he was only saying aloud what the ignoratti of the right have long believed. Now, Franks has repeated it. It is wrong and it is insulting, and all his 'clarification' doesn't change the bigotry and callousness of the republican party.

    June 12, 2013 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  2. James Foley

    Mr. Franks excuse does remind me a bit of Nixon's Checkers speech though.

    June 12, 2013 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  3. James Foley

    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.

    In Closing, I'd like to present both a sales pitch and an astute observation; Condoms, thwarting the will of god, and helping to prevent Abortions since their creation and use... [you know, because condoms are to god what Harry Potter's invisibility cloak was to death; just ask the pope].

    June 12, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  4. jamesfoley

    I'd like to present both a sales pitch and an astute observation; Condoms, thwarting the will of god, and helping to prevent Abortions since their creation and use... [you know, because condoms are to god what Harry Potter's invisibility cloak was to death; just ask the pope].

    June 12, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  5. E1G1

    yet ANOTHER older white male who thinks he knows what is "best" for women...

    June 12, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  6. Laura Craig

    He just another GOP bigot who got caught saying the dumbest thing. He said it with a straight face in order to appeal to his base and now he capped out like a coward. These GOP senators have mental disease and need to be voted out.

    June 12, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  7. Jo Black

    Yet another missed abortion sounds off.

    June 12, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  8. SilverHair

    Biology major?

    June 12, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  9. Roscoe Chait

    Republican men. They should keep their mouths shut about things they know nothing about... like women, and life.

    June 12, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  10. Thom

    They have nothing better to do than to trim abortion laws as much as possible on the right. I know, let's over turn Rowe vs. Wade and let every states budget go over by a billion dollars on births and care for thousands of women with no jobs or insurance. I think they sit on their brains sometimes. We cannot afford to overturn Rowe vs. Wade....... give it up brainiacs !!

    June 12, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  11. anonoymous

    Just to give the gop a little help....stop talking about rape!

    June 12, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  12. truthteller

    Now he lies about what he said, Class Act this guy. GOP=Dinosaurs

    June 12, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  13. Tampa Tim

    Todd Aiken's republican spirit is alive and well in the GOP.

    June 12, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  14. Thom

    If overturning Rowe vs. Wade isn't shooting yourself in the foot, I don't know what is. The cost of doing that would break every state in health costs and 18 years of care and support for every mother and child. OMG....get a brain why don't you !!! Who's going to pay for all that...........??? The taxpayers, that's who.

    June 12, 2013 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  15. jake

    wow!! I am so glad that the teapublicans in the house are able to set aside time from their "laser focus" on financial issues and take up legislation which has already been struck down by 5 federal courts!! what a friggin waste........

    June 12, 2013 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  16. quantumelf

    "Democrats would work to distort his comments". No, the GOP have proven time and time again that they don't need any help putting their feet in their mouth. I'm not even partisan, couldn't care less. It's just that the GOP are the ones in the negative limelight most often.

    June 12, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  17. dk

    when will the republicans cease fire on their war on women?

    June 12, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  18. Larry L

    "Unfortunately perhaps I assisted them a little bit in the phraseology that allowed them to do it."
    You think? Can Republicans ever stop talking about women's reproductive system? How about some actual words about jobs, Social Security, or some real healthcare ideas rather than just anti-Obamacare political theater?

    June 12, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  19. Michael

    A controversial rape comment... wow, how did I know it would be a republican?

    June 12, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  20. allenwoll

    Those who attempt to get political traction from the abortion issue DESERVE to be severely burned ! ! !

    June 12, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  21. Randy, San Francisco

    Another old angry white Republican/Tea Party politician putting his foot in the mouth. He made the comment...he owns it.

    June 12, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  22. S.B. Stein

    This is another case of Republicansns not studing science and using their ideology to drive policy.

    June 12, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  23. Lori

    Before I even clicked on the story I thought it had to be a republican..yep it was!

    June 12, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  24. Rebbe Bupkis

    Pretty sure he meant to say "legitimate rape."

    June 12, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  25. Greg

    It seems neither the Republican not the Democrats want to respect our right to own, care for, control and manage our own bodies as we see fit. The Republicans attack a woman's right to remove a fetus from her body – as if, in effect, one person/entity has the right to live off of and inside the body of another without the latter's consent. On the other hand, the Democrats don't want people to be allowed to manage their own healthcare as follows – to not have health insurance, and instead pay out of pocket for any heath care one wants, and to not partake of health care one can not afford. And those laws against food/drink that can be unhealthy when consumed in excess, and the attempts to outlaw some forms of speech/expression on the grounds that it hurts someone's feelings. Well, you know what? No one has a right to not be offended.

    This is why neither party should ever be allowed to get a significant majority in government – our civil rights suffer as a result. The only acceptable state is stalemate between the two.

    June 12, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
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