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. Susan StoHelit

    Late term abortions are tragedies – women don't sit there and go through the worst of pregnancy, then just say, oops, nevermind – these are the times when there is a wanted baby – and something happens, and the pregnancy must be stopped.

    To limit only on rape and abortion – most late term abortions (which are VERY few – a very small percent of the total) are for the health of the mother, or for a dead or horribly deformed fetus that will not survive in any meaningful way (breathing on a machine that tears it's lungs apart, because there is no brain to speak of, for a few days, is not survival).

    These aren't the casual abortions – this is something major going on. They're already limited in dozens of ways. You don't always get to find out early in pregnancy about these medical problems.

    I've been there. I've had to choose, at a late term, between risking my life to carry to viability, and abortion. No, you don't get to know early. It's not always avoidable. I did carry – with a great deal of monitoring. No one should be forced to do that.

    This is just one more way the Republicans demonstrate, with their actions, that women's lives are cheap and worth less to them. They can say what they like in elections about binders full of women, they can appoint women here and there – but their actions betray their true evaluation of us. We're to be treated as though we don't know our own minds, we're to be considered too irresponsible to make choices about our own health – and if it comes down to my life, or a fetus – even one that will not survive birth – I'm expendable.

    June 17, 2013 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  2. OhioMom

    @Just askin- Victims of rape and incest get pregnant at the same rate as women having consensual sex. There is no magic gate that slams shut at the approach of enemy sperm, despite reports to the contrary.

    June 17, 2013 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  3. Susan StoHelit

    just askin – do you know any of the stats? Or just bumper stickers?

    What percent of abortions are late term? What percent of those are medical necessity? Do you have any clue what they're debating here? It's not your careless person whose birth control failed.

    June 17, 2013 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  4. nintex

    If men (especially Republican congressmen) got pregnant, abortions would be free and available on every street corner.

    June 17, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  5. John N Florida

    Need to add another Amendment:
    No male can receive a vasectomy without the written permission of his spouse or Mother. Before receiving the Vasectomy, the man must participate in 2 weeks of counseling sessions with a Doctor who is only allowed to tell him the joys of fatherhood and exclude ANY information that would encourage him to receive the Vasectomy.

    June 17, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  6. addacat

    I'm old enough to remember the days before Roe v. Wade. Perhaps there were fewer abortions then, but there were MANY more deaths of women from botched abortions. Apparently zygotes count more than women's lives in the mind of the GOP.

    June 17, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  7. steve

    womens rights... what a joke....

    June 17, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  8. charles

    of all the enormous challenges this country faces, our great lawmakers think abortion is paramount. What bothers me is to see men dressed in suits debating how important it is for women not to abort. Women's health should be left to women to discuss. I wish men would also become pregnant , I believe there would be no more discussion about this issue.

    June 17, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  9. David

    .08 percent of abortions occur after twenty-four weeks, nearly all due to health risks to the mother. 1.4 percent of abortions occur after twenty weeks, nearly all due to health risks to the mother. No late-term abortion ban is needed because it is such a rare case and is used for legitimate medical reasons. Pro-life (correction: pro-birth) proponents try to paint a picture of belly-bursting women lining up to kill their unborn children, but this is a canard.

    June 17, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  10. Mystery Moves

    Why do GOP support RAPIST like Big Business campaign contributor?

    June 17, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  11. Robert Slossberg

    Pass an abortion bill, kill background checks for guns, stop the immigration bill. Then expect the same people you screwed over to vote for the GOP in 2016.. FAT CHANCE!! The GOP keeps playing to a shrinking base. Great news for the DEMs.

    June 17, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Personally, I don't think that there should be abortions in the third trimester unless the mother or fetuses health is in serious danger because many fetuses are viable outside the womb at that point. Women who have been raped or impregnated by incest have had 6 months to make up there mind!! An example of the problem with allowing third trimester abortions is that what if a women comes in 2 days before her due date and wants an abortion? If delivered at this point in time, that fetus would most likely survive. I don't think that is ethical.

    June 17, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  13. ok

    "...the measure, which is unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-led Senate..."

    just like the 37 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act are not going anywhere. We need to set up a payroll deduction plan to offset the cost of this continued folly by these GOP fools. We must be getting close to $50 million by now.

    June 17, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  14. Mike Texoma

    Two lives here. One a tiny baby, a fetus, unable to sustain itself outside the mother's womb, but still a baby. The other a mother – a young woman of child bearing age. She may be wife, a daughter, a sister, a woman pursuing a career, a doctor, a teacher, or a teenager just starting out in life. As a nation we have to balance their respective rights. the right to life of the fetus and the right to life of the mother. The mother enjoys a constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I do not believe the fertilized egg enjoys that right under the constitution. At what stage of development does the right of the fetus become equal to the right of the mother? And then we have to weigh the circumstance of involuntary pregnancy – rape or incest or minority. And then we have to weigh the health of the mother, even the possible loss of her life, into the balance. Mutterings about the mass murder of babies are shallow and silly. Comparisons to gun control issues miss the issue entirely. Let us address this issue as Americans striving to
    improve life for all Americans.

    June 17, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  15. Terry

    Just sayin and just askin. You two are just stupid. I'm sure you are both males so you need to shut up about women's rights. Stop parroting nonsense you hear on fox. The planned parenthood statement is ridiculous. I would say educate yourself before you speak but that's impossible. It must be really sad not to be able to think for yourself and have to live by what others tell you instead of being capable of doing your own research and making your own decisions. But as long as republitards have fox why should they believe anything else? Sad and sickening.

    June 17, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  16. cb


    I'm a true believe in a woman's right to choose. But late term abortions are just sick, sick, sick! There is no excuse and should be given no exceptions.


    Ever heard of anencephaly? How about fetal death? Are you saying a woman should be forced to carry a dead fetus until her body naturally expels it? There are many health relateg reasons involving either the mother or the fetus that would make a later term abortion necessary. Even so, the incidence of late term abortion is extremely rare, less than 1% and most involve pregnancies that were very much wanted.,

    June 17, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  17. geggyg

    @ just sayin
    It doesn't matter how many women get pregnant because of rape or incest , pregnancies from these events do occur. If only 100 pregnancies from rape or incest occur annually shouldn't they be able to have an abortion if they want , so they can move on both physically and mentally. Yes some women wont want an abortion in these cases ,its their choice . That seems to be a term you don't understand , women making a choice about what they think is best for them , not having to live a life you think is best for them.

    June 17, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  18. Dont matter

    What bill can the GOP be even working on that would require a compromise...abortion is, and has been for a very long time, legal. What do they KEEP WASTING OUR TIME AND MONEY ON SOMETHING THAT IS LAW?????

    June 17, 2013 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  19. roland

    They complain about Death Panels wait to you see the "it wasn't rape. she wanted it panel".

    June 17, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  20. Glad I was adopted, NOT aborted.

    If I understand the Left's position on "a woman's right to choose," they SUPPORT abortion right up to the day BEFORE delivery?

    If not.....then let them support a ban on SOME late-term abortions.........BUT THEY WON'T.

    June 17, 2013 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  21. whitepine

    I don't know. I often think that children of rape and incest are the devil's child not God. How else do you explain an evil act ending in a birth? And that makes me question if all births are an act of God or is man just making it an excuse for his behavior? Then again, some people should not have children as they are abusive people. Overcrowded countries like India and think God produced all those people to starve and live in filthy due to overcrowdiing? Use a little logic.

    June 17, 2013 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  22. JIMM

    Just wondering...why are they still voting on abortion bills?? How about a jobs bill?

    June 17, 2013 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  23. SoullessTechnocrat

    We should be focusing on birth prevention. If abortion is part of that answer then who is to really say anything about it? There is a simple fact that noone on the left or right is beginning to consider. There are not enough resources to go around. The only real solution is to limit the numbers of people allowed to be born. Give 50,000 dollars to anyone who has themselves permanently sterilized before having any children.

    June 17, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  24. Bert BigDongler

    Women's health is paramount here. Clearly we should let women kill their babies post-term as well. After all its all about women. We can't let some panel of evil male republicans get in the way.

    June 17, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  25. Al-NY,NY

    Righties don't get the fact that abortion is legal. If they hate it so much get your fanatical zealots on the court. Until then myob and as stated try working for people that are already born a little more.

    June 17, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
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