House GOP leaders add rape exception to abortion bill
June 17th, 2013
05:22 PM ET
10 years ago

House GOP leaders add rape exception to abortion bill

Washington (CNN) - House Republican leaders are hoping to head off a repeat of last week's controversy over the issue of whether there should be an exception for cases of rape and incest in a GOP sponsored bill banning late term abortions by adding that exception before the House debates the measure on Tuesday.

Republican members on the House Judiciary committee, which marked up the abortion bill last week, voted down a Democratic amendment to allow women who are raped to obtain an abortion beyond 22 weeks into a pregnancy. But House GOP leaders decided to add a slightly different exception to the bill after several GOP members expressed concerns about the issue, according to two House Republican leadership aides. The new language permits an exception for those women who get pregnant through rape or incest to obtain an abortion if they report the crime to the authorities first.

Last week the late term abortion bill's sponsor, Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks, ignited a controversy when he argued against any exception for rape being added to the bill. During the Judiciary panel's markup on the bill Franks said "the incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low."

Rep Zoe Lofgren, D-California, a member of the Judiciary committee, immediately pushed back, arguing, "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."

Franks later acknowledged his comments opened the door to the discussion of rape and abortion, a topic that caused backlash in the run up to the 2012 election when then GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin said the female body could prevent pregnancy during cases of "legitimate rape."

But Franks stood by his comments, and told reporters he was discussing the rare instances of abortions in the six month of pregnancy from women who are raped.

Democrats were quick to point out that there are no female GOP members on the Judiciary panel. Mindful of the optics of another abortion debate–this time on the House floor–dominated by men, House GOP leaders tapped Tennessee Republican Rep Marsha Blackburn to manage the debate on the House floor instead of Franks. Blackburn co-sponsored the bill and is close to GOP leaders and has been critical about the need for the party to include more female voices. One GOP aide told CNN that leaders are encouraging Republican women who support the measure to participate in the floor debate on Tuesday.

It's doubtful that the procedural move to add the rape exception to the bill will stifle House Democrats' spotlight on the issue. House Democratic leaders have repeatedly emphasized that the measure, which is unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-led Senate, was scheduled for a vote while Americans would rather see action on items focused on the struggling economy. They believe independent voters, who could be a pivotal block in the next election, will be turned off by the focus on a controversial social issue.

Filed under: Abortion • House
soundoff (165 Responses)
  1. poltimum

    Less than 2% of abortions are late term, many of those because of health defects in the fetus of illness (i.e. cancer) or other health issues with the mother. No one uses abortion as birth control. These righteous men want to stop abortion, contraception and sex education! Keep your laws off my body!

    June 18, 2013 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  2. Arick

    I would wager that 90% of Republican congressmen couldn't identify, by name, a single part of a woman's genitalia.

    June 18, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  3. bob

    why does there need to be an exception for rape in a late term abortion bill?

    22 weeks isnt enough time to decide what to do?

    if we ban late term abortion because it means killing a viable fetus, ie a person – then there should be NO exception other than to save the life of the mother. either a viable fetus is or isnt a human person. there should be no well maybe if the mother isnt sure... about it....

    June 18, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  4. ObaWendon

    Time for politicians and right to lifers to stay out of a womans right to chose! An abortion is a personal decision between each individual woman and her God. No other person on this earth should be able to take that away from her. The only time I would say that MEN should have the right to comment is of course if the baby is theirs AND they would be willing to support the child for 18 years, or if they have their ability to reproduce eliminated if they have more than two children with more than two women and refuse to support them. If Men are willing to have vascetomy's if they reproduce and don't support then maybe more MEN can have a say on what is done to a Woman's body. This is America where women actually have the right to chose their path in life, as do Men. Women don't get to tell men how to do things with their bodys do they?

    June 18, 2013 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  5. Robert Morales

    Things like this prove why the Republican Party can't be taken seriously as it is. It should split into a Social Conservative Party and a Fiscally Conservative Party since you can't effectively do both. You can't be fiscally conservative when you're wasting tax dollars trying to be socially conservative. But then again, I'm sure that the Democratic Party is loving this since they know that if the Republican Party would only focus on being fiscally conservative, then the Democratic Party would be in trouble.

    June 18, 2013 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  6. Cynthia

    It is not the will of Gd that rape occurs. But it is His utmost desire that the unborn baby be shown mercy and be let live.

    Don't kill a baby because of a sick and depraved father, not especially when it has developed to a stage where it can hear and respond to you.

    June 18, 2013 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  7. CS

    Abortion is ok (sorry God nuts, it's still just a blob), but late term abortions are not cool. Beside, if you were raped, wouldn't you monitor the situation?

    June 18, 2013 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  8. revolting peasant

    I strongly favor abortion rights, but 22 weeks is very far down the path. A 22 week fetus looks like a baby, it will move, I imagine it could even cry. The law needs to allow an abortion if the mother's life is at risk. Otherwise, I think the woman should figure out that she want/sneeds the abortion earlier on in the process.

    June 18, 2013 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  9. J.V.Hodgson

    Scandal, opposition, No, religious laws re abortion and marriage... these we pursue with a fervency that is unbelievable.
    Meanwhile creating jobs, passing a budget or even agreeing to reconciliation on budgets NOWAY Hose, Immigration reform, cant have that; we'll lose the next election(S) deliberate plural.
    I got news for Cruz , Rubio, Rand Paul, Grassley and the likes of ISSA even your jobs are at risk in 2014 and 2016.

    June 18, 2013 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  10. Calif Voter

    Here's an idea. How about if everyone opposed to abortion signs up to adopt an unwanted baby? Because while I 100% agree that people SHOULD be able to prevent unwanted pregnancies. They don't. So then what? It costs all of us taxpayers millions of dollars to support those kids on welfare, pay for K-12 school, and pay for juvenile detention and jail for those who don't graduate from high school and commit crimes. So please, all you Republicans, sign up here to adopt a child the mother can't afford to raise.

    June 18, 2013 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  11. souptwins

    I'm a woman and I realize what causes pregnancies. I also know that pregnancy is a consequence of a decision made prior to the pregnancy. As with any consequence, I realize that to avoid a bad one all I have to do is make a different choice. I'm also aware that contraceptives may not be 100% effective so I take that into consideration before removing my pants. If the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or may result in my death, that changes the whole discussion because the choice was not mine. I'm just not sure why more than 22 weeks is necessary to make a decision. Really? You need more than 5 months to know if it was rape or incest?

    June 18, 2013 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  12. Shannon

    There is no excuse to have to have an abortion after 22wks!! You can't tell me that that is takes that long to decide that you don't want the baby? This bill is for LATE TERM abortions! In the case of saving the mothers life... the baby could be delivered to save the mothers life via c-section and with today's technology – has a good chance to survive outside the womb – and still preserving the life of the mother. The baby does not need to be butchered invitro. To me – this i would assume actually poses more of a theat to the mother. People that decide to have these late term abortions are nothing more that murderers!!!

    And a woman has always had the right to "choose" – she has the right to "choose" to be responsible – the right to "choose" to have sex – the right to "choose" to use protection – the right to "choose" adoption -I would just like to know when did it ever become acceptable to have the right to "choose" to murder a baby that is viable outside the womb!!! past 22wks guys... thats almost 6 months pregnant!!

    June 18, 2013 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  13. freedom fan

    Women, women, women, it's always about them.

    June 18, 2013 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  14. Peoples State of Illinois

    We need to keep allowing abortions, especially in urban areas. It helps keep down the population of "undesirables."

    June 18, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  15. Jennifer NY

    Paul is very smart. Guys should stay out of it until they are able to be pregnant. GOP will keep losing elections until they quit this subject and leave it alone. We women are sick and tired of it. The backstreet abortionists will be back in business. It must be kept safe and legal. How about creating jobs?

    June 18, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
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