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. Roscoe Chait

    Republican men should be silent about things they know nothing about... like women, and life.

    June 13, 2013 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  2. Roscoe Chait

    Apparently, ABCNews doesn't like my comment about some Republican men who should not talk about things they know nothing about.

    June 13, 2013 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  3. DrDSW4

    Another Republican demonstrates his ignorance of human reproduction, a repressive agenda that continues to shout only men know what is best for a woman and her body! The modern day Republican is neither modern nor objective. They prove by their actions and words to be the party of obstruction, destruction and anti-women, anti-minority, anti-immigrant, anti-gay and anti- anyone who does not subscribe to their narrow minded, middle ages ideology. They are happy to make up their own facts and allegations without proof, evidence, factual data or common sense.

    I still find it hard to believe that so many people believed the rhetoric and voted Republicans in control of the House and many States. Women, education, the poor,disabled, military families, and anyone without power suffers at the hands of the elected Republicans and their ALEC, Koch brothers, and ultra-right wing money and legislative "suggestion" suppliers. It will be decades, if ever, the economy, the environment, the working poor, the middle class, and reasonable unbiased people will see honest political districts without gerrymandering,voter suppression, and dirty tricks. If the Republicans hate our government,instead of trying to destroy it and privatize everything, they should resign and move to a place that meets their agenda without imposing their ideology on the rest of us...something like this country was founded on a desire for freedom of religion and freedom from oppression and repressive regimes!

    June 13, 2013 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  4. tina

    Foot in mouth again

    June 13, 2013 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  5. Rogue351

    The epidemic that is running rampant in the GOP over how exactly conception works. Rather that be consulted conception or not consulted equalling rape is making each GOP tea Party member that opens their mouth on the subject look just that much more uneducated and brings forth the question of home schooling that is so popular among the religious right. The GOP is constantly all over teachers making sure they are teaching the "right" things when they themselves have no idea.

    Keep the comments coming GOP, each time you put your foot in your mouth and try so hard to cook up some conspiracy or "Scandal" I guess is the preferred catch word the GOP is trying to push. Instead of working with this administration you continue to disregard the majority voice and have abandoned American and it's people over an agendas. I will tell you now you would have one alot more wiggle run had you played nice. You have a candidate the middle of the road people would love but you refuse him at each turn. I see another lost election and alot more talk radio haters making alot more money.

    June 13, 2013 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  6. Jackie

    Rep. Franks thinks of women like he treats his wife. Franks controls his wife and feels men lead. Republican men feel women are servants and of use for reproducing and women's work. There are other women for entertainment that men can use. Conservative women stay in their place and do as their told. Even female Republican lawmakers take orders from men and smile. This was seen when the support of Rape is God's Blessing was the call of the Republican and Tea Party. Franks doesn't feel like a real man so disgracing women is how he handles his problems.

    June 13, 2013 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  7. m

    someone making such sloppy misstatements probably should not be in charge of making laws. and even so, the law of the lang should not be based on ignoring events of low frequency. you'd think lawmakers would be more conscientious about their jobs and the ability of their policies for covering almost all situations..not just the ones existing in their 'most likely' thoughy experiments.

    June 13, 2013 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  8. Pat in il

    Another man running at the mouth about something he has never had to think about experiencing or knows anything about. I would like to see him cite an actual study regarding fetal pain, etc., instead of just saying that such a study exists. There is nothing credible about that non-information

    June 13, 2013 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  9. Yon

    The Repub used the wrong argument. What woman is going to wait five months in order to rid ger body of being a leech? Even if a rape victim waited that long (show me one?) , why can't there be exceptions? Why a blanket statement?

    June 13, 2013 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  10. jack

    Dear republicans

    Tell me what to do! I am just a simple person, and you old white guys have all this wisdom, I don't need my rights to make up my own mind! Thank you for restricting my choices. Those libertarians want me to make decisions based on what I think is best for me!

    You are doing such a good job managing the economy, balancing the budgets... you must also be right about what is best for me.

    thank you

    a simple tax payer

    June 13, 2013 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  11. Skarphace

    Combine the three "rape" related comments from Teavangelists that have caused so much controversy lately, and you can decifer their true agenda.

    First, Todd Akin says, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

    Then, Richard Mourdock says, "a child resulting from rape is a gift from God."

    Then, Trent Franks says, "incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low."

    Put all of these comments together and you get the following thread: since a woman's body has the ability to shut itself down during rape, then a woman should not get pregnant if it was truly rape. If a woman does get pregnant, then it was merely alleged rape, and not true rape. God knows it was not truly rape, and has given a child to this desparate woman as a gift.

    I am still not sure if these politicians truly believe what they are saying, but there are many Teavangelists who do. What is the agenda of these politicians? It is simple. They intend to make abortions illegal in all cases, including rape. They know that if they say it straight-up like that, though, that their message will not resonate. Therefore, they must discredit rape itself.

    Teavangelists are despicable and disgusting people and have no place in modern society. Unfortunately, there are many Americans who buy their snake-oil poisons and drink it down willingly.

    June 13, 2013 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  12. Dave

    He makes a twisted comment and tries to blame the Democrats for what he said? Sounds like a republican.

    June 13, 2013 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  13. Spot Check Billy

    Obviously, it's the Democrats' fault that he said what he said.

    June 13, 2013 04:00 am at 4:00 am |
  14. craig

    Yet another member of the GOP who didn't get Jindal's memo. Just keep saying Stupid Things, folks, because we just keep piling up the reasons not to vote for you. I am, however, starting to wonder who all Jindal sent the memo to in the first place. Telling the public that the GOP should stop saying Stupid Things was definitely preaching to the choir. We're really tired of it, yet it's the only game the GOP plays well.

    June 13, 2013 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  15. johno54

    Is this like when I toss some water on a hot grill to see how hot it is?
    These remarks have log since cross the line and really its not the persons who make these remarks that I now have issue with but with those who have placed these person of suspect civility to represent them. Especially women.
    I now strongly suspect that these politicians are actually telling us that this is their acculturation and so this goes deep than just speaking out of turn.

    June 13, 2013 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  16. Peggy

    all Republicans look like this. Is there a factory somewhere?

    June 13, 2013 04:51 am at 4:51 am |
  17. Siesta Beach

    How long before stupid men quit trying to control women's reproduction system. 100% of the Republican party men should shut their pie holes regarding abortion, etc. Legitimate castration does not hurt......trust me!!

    June 13, 2013 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  18. marc

    wouldn't an article suggesting that his comment is out of bounds be obligated to show that the incident of pregnancies caused by rape is high? Studies suggest the number is between 200 and 400 per year. Put in context, Planned Parenthood alone aborts about 3-5 times as many babies every day.

    June 13, 2013 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  19. Chris

    How did I know it was going to be a Republican before I even read the story?

    June 13, 2013 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  20. The checker

    I find it hilarious, and so predictable, that in any story about something a republican did wrong, the person is tagged republican right away. Conversly, if a democrat is the subject of something bad, you really have to search for the word democrat - if it is even in the story at all. CNN is so funny!

    June 13, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  21. Marie MD

    Are these fools living in the same century as the rest of us? Who is this fool, akin ilte?
    "incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low." – this is the same bs that other guy said and it cost him his job. These are the guys running our country., The rethugs are out of touch with everyone in their tiny little and getting smaller bubble of dumb.

    June 13, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  22. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Regarding the imprecise "phraseology" involved, the intention of Rep. Franks was surely to differentiate pregnancies resulting from legitimate rape and aborted after the seventh month from those aborted after the sixth month. Republicans must avoid being distracted by technicalities of illegitimate rape.

    June 13, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  23. Norman Autrey

    Yeah, it was the Democrats who put the words in my mouth and made me use my voice box to enunciate them! Yeah, that's the ticket, it was the Democrats, my staff, uh, I think maybe Bugs Bunny was partly to blame as well. Well, maybe Bugs Bunny is a stretch, but it could have been some other person, or cartoon character that is to blame for the words that come out of my pie hole! Okay,okay, I know that I said it, but really it was taken out of context, even though I said it, what I meant to say was....Wait, What?

    June 13, 2013 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  24. hmfic

    Why is it when politicians on both sides say something entirely stupid, that they proclaim their comments were taken out of content?

    June 13, 2013 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  25. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Women, do not judge Republicans too harshly: remember that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.

    June 13, 2013 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
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