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. maximusvad

    Rape is the womans fault =Most Bible based organized religions.
    Rape is the womans fault =GOP.
    They are consistent.

    June 13, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  2. El Flaco

    Conservatives claim they are straight, but the sure hate women.

    June 13, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    This man doesn't need to clean it up. He should be commended for speaking out and saying exactly what every other Republican who votes "aye" on the bill is actually thinking.

    Republicans want to believe that just because they don't come and say the ugly things, that they don't believe these ugly things.

    June 13, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  4. Anonymous

    If I thought the man really cared about those in the womb anymore than he cared about those outside of the womb, I'd give him the benefit of doubt. He said what he said to up his campaign coffers with anti-abortion donors and then did his "the lefties say this and the lefties say that" bait and switch to add even more campaign money coming in. It works every time with small minded people foolish enough to give money to these fools who use their constituents as personal money trees, thanks to Fox News and other like minded political campaign +pimps+.

    June 13, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  5. Bernard Webb

    What on earth is WRONG with republicans? It's like they've all gone nuts.

    June 13, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  6. James PDX

    1st off, 20 weeks does not equal 6 months. In fact, it doesn't quite equal 5. So at least be honest (or take a remedial grade school math class). I agree that abortions after 20 weeks are almost never warranted. With few exceptions, rapes should be reported before 5 months elapse. I can see a few exceptions, such as when teenagers are being sexually abused by family members. But if you go allowing exceptions even for unreported rapes, then all a desperate woman needs to do to get around a 5 month restriction is claim rape. 20 weeks is enough time to determine that you're pregnant and to decide whether to have an abortion.

    June 13, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  7. JCNow

    To say there should be NO limits on abortion is as crazy as to say there should be no limits on guns. The Supreme Court test in Roe v. Wade weighs against the right to obtain an abortion the closer to viability that a fetus becomes. Prior to three months should not be in question. But 20 weeks (5 months) we are much closer to the point of viability, particularly with medical science being what it is. There would still be rare instances where an abortion may be sought after 5 months, for instance, where severe birth defects of the fetus are discovered late in the pregnancy, or where the health or life of the mother is in danger. The problem that all pro-choicers recognize is the same problem that the anti-gun controll advocates preach. That any limitation of any kind is an attempt at total elimination of the right. And that's clearly the case if you look at the ultimate goals and the means by which they intend to reach those goals set out by the anti-choicers. (Personhood statutes for example.) The problem is we can't trust each other to find a middle ground, and consequently, no one is willing to make concessions of any kind. When will mankind become rational human beings.

    June 13, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  8. davehhds

    The repugnican symbol should be a PIG !!!!

    June 13, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  9. Andrew

    The Republican conundrum: how do you force a conservative interpretation of the bible down everyone's throats, and still win a national election? (The answer of course is by gerrymandering)

    June 13, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  10. TAJ

    It's not that Republicans are the only ones saying it...they are the only ones the state run media reports as saying it.

    June 13, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  11. rockysfan

    Democrats did not open your mouth and force you to spew idiocy; quite frankly, you did that all on your own. If I was a female in your family....there would be h e !! to pay for your comments. Where you sickos get off with these comments is absolutely amazing. Apparently comprehension is not a strong point with repub males.

    June 13, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  12. stewart

    ahh the party of stupid is at it again.

    June 13, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  13. Rudy NYC


    To say there should be NO limits on abortion is as crazy as to say there should be no limits on guns. The Supreme Court test in Roe v. Wade weighs against the right to obtain an abortion the closer to viability that a fetus becomes.
    No one said that there should be "NO limits on abortion" except for you. Seeing how that was the premise for you entire argument, then it's only fair that we dismiss it as a straw man argument. Have a nice day.

    June 13, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  14. Tony in STL

    Has it not yet become apparent that the current republican party is unfit to lead. They shouldn't be in charge of anything! Their "way of thinking" is scary and dangerous. I'm trying to figure out who's still voting for them. No minorities, no women, no Union workers, no immigrants, no LGBT...

    June 13, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  15. Linda

    "Phraseology" - another word created by pompous people to hide their blunders–two-bit word for an idiotic remark

    June 13, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  16. Pandamonius

    I don't necessarily disagree with a ban on abortions at 6 months; however, the statement he made about rape reveals just how little the Republicans care about that issue. Yes, he was responding to a question about having no mandatory rape report amendment, but he could have easily made the point that very few people would wait 6 months to report rape. Instead, he chose to claim that very few rapes result in pregnancy. First off, that doesn't have anything to do with the question that was posed to him. Second, that has no scientific basis, and third just like Aiken's comment that the female body has ways to "shut that thing down", it seems to claim that women who get pregnant weren't really raped.

    The GOP really needs to get over this Sharia-like mentality when it comes to women.

    June 13, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  17. Harry101

    Well lets have fun with a stupid comment by this one member of the GOP and paste all of the GOP as the same. Why do we never seem to hear abut the stupid comments from the left are they not news. The MSM continues to caste all the GOP as being the same and in lock step with whatever stupid comment come out of a GOPers mouth. Why do they feel the need to do so, well Bias. The stupid comments from members of DNC don't seem to get the same treatment. Couold it be that the far right is less likely to profile all by the comment of one. You know like cross hairs!

    June 13, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  18. Tracey T

    "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."

    Oh please!! No twisting needed. You said it you moron; if you truly did not mean it and misspoke (which I doubt) OWN IT and quit trying to blame others.

    June 13, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  19. zandhcats

    I listened and read the entered comment, there's not taken out of context.

    June 13, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  20. Mack

    JC Now: I don't know a single person who favors no restrictions on abortion and/or no limits on guns (or "no guns" for that matter). These extremes have no place in society and thankfully are very fringe viewpoints. To dance them out as relevant examples highjacks the issue at hand, frankly.

    June 13, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  21. JackieG

    Open mouth, insert foot then blame the opposition.

    June 13, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  22. duh

    Another example of Democrat fake outrage over comments that were obviously about how many ABORTIONS were a direct cause of being raped. Not how many pregnancies were caused by rape.

    Come on people, you know exactly what he meant. Every time a Dem says dumb things the get a pass, but there's always this fake outrage when a Republican says it. At least, he didn't send a pic of his penls to a bunch of women.

    What we need is for Bill Clinton to come out and tell everyone how outraged he is with this "War on Women" that the Republicans are waging.

    You know the guy, the one you Dems gave a pass to after he took advantage of a young intern. Then you Dems made that young intern and Republicans the bad guy.

    June 13, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  23. Thomas

    Why do we have such stupid people as elected officials ?

    This guy couldn't bust a grape in any other profession .

    June 13, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  24. Festus

    Why is it that Repug want less government in peoples lives until it comes to a womans body?

    June 13, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  25. sifto

    this subject has already been decided by the supreme court..religious folks have a right to their thoughts–you libs can jump off the "war against women" thing..there are lots of things you believe in that conservatives don't–yet you are allowed your free speech–get off your high horses and worry about something else....

    June 13, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
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