House GOP leaders add rape exception to abortion bill
June 17th, 2013
05:22 PM ET
9 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. Marcus Shull

    @just sayin: As you apparently seem to speak for the entire right leaning population I am addressing this statement directly to you. Please use your deep and vast experience with the GOP to convey the following:

    You and many like your certainly like to whine and moan about us "lefties", and how we blatantly allow people to murder unborn babies under the guise of women's rights. A Woman's right to choose, should be a State issue, not a Federal one. Besides, Until you start giving a damn about what happens to that fetus, after it is born, your argument doesn't make much sense.

    June 17, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  2. budshot

    Such a waste of time and money. It's been legal since the early 70s and Republicans STILL play this game. This won't win them any more votes but I guess it keeps the uber-conservative base happy.

    How about some JOBS legislation?? Republicans haven't offered one single bill since Obama was first elected.

    June 17, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  3. Buddy

    It seems democrats love to find excuses for aborting babies. Why is it moral to snuff out the life of a kid merely because his dad is not a nice guy?

    June 17, 2013 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  4. Edwin

    ender: 22 weeks is not late term. They say the bill is to prevent late term abortions because they know that phrase has broad appeal, but this law is to ban middle term abortions.

    It is also a stupid use of taxpayer money. They know without any question that this bill will not pass the Senate and get signed by Obama. They know it and are voting on it to play games. The only reason this bill is on the House floor is to ensure conservatives stay happy with them.

    Instead of playing games, why can't elected legislators actually try and pass laws that will actually *get passed* – and maybe ones that actually help the country out. Stop obsessing about birth control pills and abortions, gay marriage and voter IDs, and start working on something to improve the job market or improve our crumbling infrastructure – or maybe both at once!

    June 17, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  5. The Elephant in the Room

    The GOP has attempted to paint women into a corner on the topic of abortion. A religious corner, a moral corner, a legal corner. It`s not going to work and it only hurts the Party.

    NO ONE revels in participation in an abortion . . . not the male/female/medical. Trying to redefine the conception as a birthdate and everything after that as MURDER simply will not be accepted. Least of all from a bunch of old, white men on a topic where the primary stakeholder of the topic is a women. I don`t care for abortion but neither do I think demonizing the women in their difficult circumstances is a sustainable solution.

    Don`t want an abortion . . . then don`t have one. But you can`t apply your theocracy to others. If you anti-abortionists are right then the women who have abortions will have to answer their maker on judgement day. Heaven will be less crowded then.

    June 17, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  6. pkrbkr3

    Republicans are fixated on abortion, rape, women's reproductive rights......digging a little deeper into the grave, aren't they? I fail to understand WHY/HOW men should think they are the experts on this subject!!!!! Roe vs. Wade is the law of the's time to get on with other business of the jobs!!!!

    June 17, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  7. Norma jean

    Maybe todays women should learn from the early Greek women who refused their men sex until the men stopped fighting....Today women should do the same but demanding the right to decide how to care for their own bodies. What right has any man to tell a woman what she can do or should do for themselves...We are not owned by these men....they didn't buy and pay for us... We are human beings with the right to self determination... How about it women???? are you willing to fight for YOUR rights????Lets get this ball really rolling !!!!!!! IT CAN BE DONE!!!

    June 17, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  8. J R Brown

    For all you folks screaming about abortion being "legal" are CLEARLY choosing to ignore the part of Roe v Wade where the SCOTUS determined that at a certain point, the fetus has a right to life superior to the mother's right to an abortion. That point is viability....a point the SCOTUS left legally undefined. Medical technology has advanced quite far in the 4 decades since Roe v Wade...what was unheard of in terms of viability then is commonplace now. The laws should reflect the changes in medical technology and viability.

    June 17, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  9. Apex301

    And it will be shot down in the Senate so the House is wasting its time alienating women again.

    June 17, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  10. Bob

    Now we need to hear how the GOP defines "legitimate rape".

    June 17, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  11. gg

    My wife works as a nurse saving babies 23 weeks and older. All abortions are evil, but especially heinous after 22 weeks.

    June 17, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  12. Dave

    there will be no movement on this issue because the republicans need this issue to drum up support from the religious right, and because of this one issue they can run any idiot for office and still get a voters to support them. The supreme court has already decided this issue period.The right can bark up this tree every 4 years to keep there voter block intact, but it will not change the basic freedom that women have to choose to end a pregnancy or not.

    June 17, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  13. Nc_mike

    Republican party = anti women

    June 17, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. Norma jean

    WOMEN ...I have written over and over how we can beat these abortion conscious men at their game and they won't print it.......Now here we go for the fourth time....Give the men the old Greek womens method. No sex until they go along with our self determination...This is a problem WE should solve....not them!!

    June 17, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  15. Bob

    All aborted babies go to heaven. Problem solved.

    June 17, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  16. Darna

    "Pro-life" from the party that killed tens of thousands in Iraq for no justifiable reason. Every one of you who scream "pro-life", who voted for Bush-Cheney are complicit in those deaths. Hard to stomach?

    June 17, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  17. Bg

    WHY is the democrat/liberal party all about KILLING? Why are they pro-death? The devil must love them.

    June 17, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  18. TNPatriot

    Until the radical religious zealots of the world are put down, the world is a very unsafe place for anyone. In the middle east, they have the radical Muslim terrorist, here in the US we have the Radical Christian terrorist.
    Contrary to the ignorance of the radical right, the US is NOT a Christian nation and most of the founding fathers were NOT Christians.

    June 17, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  19. edpeters101

    Stay out of women's rights, and stay the Hell out of my bedroom!

    June 17, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  20. edpeters101

    And, who cares about rape? You already told us that a woman's body has ways to shut that down...

    June 17, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  21. MarioD

    "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." -> What is outrageous is to say to a woman that killing the baby in her womb because of the crime of the father will make her life better. So, we tell a woman that her reproductive right becomes a right to choose death? Where are the women who have triumphed for the better in using this right in cases of incest or rape? Why are they not speaking up? Because there are none, they all suffer a double injury once they abort. How about all of those who suffer so long after their "choice"? They are speaking up in groups like "Silent No More" or at Rachel's Vineyard retreats -> they are suffering from this choice to kill. What a bill of goods the pro-abortion people have put on the dignity of a woman to bear children; albeit even if the circumstance was not of love – it is the crowning glory that a woman bears new life. I would be happy to adopt such a "mistake" or product of a is sacred and we are dumping them down the drain or storing them in jars; just like Kermit Gosnell or any abortionist does...humans, little humans killed and tossed away!

    June 17, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  22. Smart Potato

    Gee, how kind of them.

    June 17, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  23. AV

    This is not, and should not be, a political issue. It is a matter of science. Based on scientific fact, by the ninth week after conception, most of the baby's body parts have formed, and begins rapid development and growth. At that point, it also begins gender differentiation. It is now a he or she. His/her brain has already had some development. He/she is a human being. He/she is still in development; yet, he/she is still a human being and has rights. He/she has a right to fully develop and live.

    22 months is a ridiculously long time to wait to have an abortion. You're already half-way through the development. A female fetus has already developed ovaries. The fetus can swallow. Blink. Think of that. He/she is already moving around in there. He/she is a life. A living, moving, partially thinking being. Abortion would kill him or her.

    The only marginally acceptable time to cut a pregnancy short without committing murder is before the brain forms and heart starts pumping, and that's 3-4 weeks after conception.

    Again, that is not political. That is not religious. It is fact. It is science. And at one time or another, that was all of us. We were all, at some point in time, a fetus. Turning back in time, would you be okay with your parents cutting your own development short at 22 weeks? How can you willfully permit or justify someone else doing it?

    My best advice is: if you're raped, report it immediately to the police, get taken to the hospital, and have them provide you with a morning after pill. Waiting 10 weeks, 12 weeks, or 22 weeks is ridiculous. That fetus is already a person. A he or she. A life.

    June 17, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  24. dean morse

    Why should a politician be the judge over a womans decision to have an abortion for any reason? It should be the woman's call over what happens to her body. This has to be a clear decision in government. Religious conservatives can not be allowed to get involved in such a personal decision. Honestly, How dare they?

    June 17, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  25. OhioMom

    If you ask someone who identifies themselves as Pro-life for the number one cause of abortion, the will answer either Roe Vs. Wade or PP. They refuse to acknowledge that an unwanted pregnancy is the ONLY cause of abortion. Roe and PP are merely the vehicles for safe abortion. Abortions were around before Roe and will still be here if it's overturned. Black market abortificients flourish in countries where abortion is illegal and are on the rise here. If people are sincere about reducing abortion to as low a number as possible, they will do all that they can to prevent unwanted pregnancy. So decide. Is your goal to reduce abortion, or to punish the women who seek them?

    June 17, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
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