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. MysticYat

    Always good to see another well educated, well informed, empathetic republican representative........NOT!

    June 12, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  2. mjd

    yea we'll all believe you when you say the other side made me say it! wow these guys are all the same paul ryan,akin they all say this stuff because they BELIEVE what they are saying. it happens all the time then the gutless cowards blame someone else for their comments. amazing!!

    June 12, 2013 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  3. Carol

    Another right-wing Conservative Republican who listens to his preachers instead of using his brain. I am so sick of these men claiming they know so much about women when they really don't.

    June 12, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |

    Another republican said what about rape now?

    June 12, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  5. rafterman11

    Sorry, but his later explanation of his comments do not match the context of the question he was asked at the time.

    June 12, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  6. RickFromTexas

    I didn't even have to click on the link to this story to know that yet another republican had said something ignorant in public. What's truly amazing to me is that anyone is dumb enough to vote for these social throwbacks.

    June 12, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    Too late - he can't make us unhear it. ha ha ha ha ha

    June 12, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  8. luke,az

    When will the republican party implode ? These guys are stuck in the dark ages. It's time to vote them out of office.

    June 12, 2013 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  9. Willy

    Another conservative Republican with superior knowledge of the inner workings of secret lady parts. We should listen to this guy.

    June 12, 2013 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  10. Hugh_Mann

    no matter how he phrases it, he still tries to discout rape as a crime by citing these types of statistics that insinuate that assault does not result in harm.

    June 12, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  11. dj

    Abortion is evil no matter what the circumstances. Rape causing pregnancy is tragic, but the percentage of abortions from rape is in fact very low. Killing an innocent child because of the actions of the biological father is wrong. If abortion was illegal except in cases of rape or Iincest, every woman would claim they were raped by their father. Many children fathered from rape have become great contributors in life. This is not any easy thing to live with but, Iit is the right thing to do.

    June 12, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  12. Diana

    Rep Frank – 6 month old fetus is NOT A BABY. Rapes do end up in pregnancy. If you are worried about the fetus being "tortuously murdered", then ask for a law that the fetus be euthanized prior to the procedure. My body is none of your business. Why should I be required to report a rape or be forced to give birth to a child that I do not want. The whole abortion issue is a male dominated movement. Before someone gets on the bandwagon of saying I have had an abortion(s) – I haven't even when I had cancer and was told I would not survive the pregnancy – that is why it is call "Pro CHOICE".

    June 12, 2013 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  13. Charles Darwin

    He needs to crawl back under a rock.
    Pathetic excuse of a man!

    June 12, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  14. Salty Bob

    The end is near for the GOP and its going to be a party as they go out with a bang and whimper at the same time. Good bye GOP wasn't nice knowing ya but will be nice to see you go. Its a new world and the republican wisdom from the past just isn't the wisdom of today. what worked in the past isn't guaranteed to work in the present, rarely what worked then will work now as we evolve in the way we communicate and learn about each other. I really look forward to the day when Texas goes blue and R Perry goes away far away.

    June 12, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  15. Chris

    When you offer incoherent babble, you can expect a bit of controversy. There is no need for the left to distort what is already distorted

    June 12, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  16. swej

    Sounds like another Todd Akin.

    June 12, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  17. Complete ignorance

    "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."
    Even the statement provided to clarify his remark is beyond stupid.

    June 12, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  18. Teresa

    There is no requirement to report a rape in 48 hours. A woman may take a while before reporting a rape. She may be afraid, ashamed, in denial. She may not realize she is pregnant until she starts to show and for some women that can be when they are in their 6th month of pregnancy. You are not a woman, you will never be raped and you will never get pregnant. You cannot know what a woman goes thru when that happens. So yes a woman can ask for an abortion at this time.

    June 12, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  19. Dave

    I thought they had the Republican Party workshop – "Don't Say Anything About Rape."

    June 12, 2013 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  20. Subnx

    Eliminate children. Eliminate elderly. Eliminate women who can't conceive. Eliminate women on birth control. That's your numerator. The denominator is all rape victims. Statistically, Franks has to be correct.

    June 12, 2013 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  21. OhPleaseYerKillinMeSTOP

    The Woman.
    Her Doctor.
    Butt Out.
    Impotent Control Freak

    June 12, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  22. Mike Buck

    Another member of the Take Education Away (TEA) Party sharing his expertise.

    June 12, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  23. lyn

    A man's opinion on any reproductive right of a woman....ends when he decides on wearing a condom or not. Make the man sit down. His opinion is invalid.

    June 12, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  24. Jinx9to88

    Why is it that the GOP only believes in the rights of the American people only when it pertains to them?

    June 12, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  25. Steve S

    The GOP would be better served, by imposing a gag order on discussing rape, with their male elected officials.

    June 12, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
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