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. DJ Reality

    Oh this is really important. The GOP in the house is not satisfied screwing the country up. Now they are attacking women's rights. What happened to reducing the deficit? What happened to working on job creation? Let me tell you they are bringing us closer to their own brand of sharia law. And we all thought the democrats messed up when they were in charge. The GOP is proving they are worse.

    June 17, 2013 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  2. Larry L

    @it must be said

    If liberals want to ban, control and limit firearms, ammunition and magazines all under the guise of just saving one single life, then they are going to have to vote for this bill for the very same reason. These are reasonable limitations and a compromise on abortion.
    Where is the compromise on firearms?

    June 17, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  3. TRE

    Future generations of this country will look back during this time and be ashamed of how we allowed the murder of so many of our unborn. May we turn away as a nation from the endless killing of the innocent.

    June 17, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  4. The Valeyard

    Why are Republicans still wasting time fighting a legislative battle that's been over for 40 years now? Abortion is legal. Abortion is never going to be illegal again. Get over it. Abortions are as permanent a fixture of U.S. society as guns.

    June 17, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  5. Larry L

    just sayin

    there you go lefties... an exception for rape and incest. now vote to stop the wholesale murder of babies under the guise of "womens healthcare". stop the use of abortion as birth control. in this day and age, with all of the readily available and cheap or free contraceptives, there is no way you can justify th ebarbaric murder of innocent babies with abortion.
    Many of the "pro-life" faction consider contraception a sin. Here in Texas Tevangelicals fight to keep sex education out of schools. Planned Parenthood offers the counseling and contraception you're talking about. Think for a change before you speak.

    June 17, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  6. Teresa DiLuzio

    I fully agree with Richard Miller who supports a woman's right to choose.

    June 17, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  7. Reasonable40

    Women's Right to Choose WHAT? Come on people THINK and stop parroting the clich├ęs! To intentionally end the life of a VIABLE Human Life? This is not a political issue. It is a human rights issue. This has become part of the political process because our Constitution guarantees us the right to LIFE, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These VIABLE human beings have rights. These Viable babies are not part of a Woman's body, many could live outside the mother. This whole It is my body"aurgument also misses the POINT that there is another LIFE that we are talking about. No one is protesting when some women get 20 Plastic Surgeries. No one is protesting when a women does any other elective surgery! The only time others care is when ANOTHER life is at stake. Is it not honorable to stand up for an innocent human beings life when another person is trying to take it? Please open up your minds and your hearts. Please see the truth. I am willing to compromise on the health of the mother. I would leave open this question in cases of Rape and Incest also. I think we all agree that life is precious and late term abortion of Viable babies for reasons of convenience are wrong.

    June 17, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  8. lawless

    It amazes me that the GOP does not want the govt to tell them anything abt anything, yet the Gop wants legislate womens issues. yeah, lets block abortion. then, stave them to death after they are born. thats the GOP way..

    June 17, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  9. Dru Richman

    "If Men Could Get Pregnant, Abortion Would be a Sacrament" – Florence Kennedy

    June 17, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  10. NSL

    I have written to my Representative to vote against this bill. It's an outrageous attack on women, their health, their privacy, the doctor patient/relationship, and their reproductive rights. Moreover it's tantamount to the GOP playing God, by deciding who gets to live and who to die by denying important medical care for women.

    June 17, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  11. Rick

    I believe that abortions should be allowed in case of rape, incest, health of the mother. I don't believe that women should use abortion as a birth control. Yes it is a woman's right, she is the one carrying the fetus. But what about the rights of the father to be? Doesn't it usually take two to tangle? Are mistakes made? Yes they are, and maybe there should be some compassion for first time mothers that made a mistake. I'm not against that either, But for those that have had multiple abortions just b/c they don't care is just wrong.

    June 17, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  12. Robert

    Abortion is not a clear-cut issue, but laws, by their nature, must be clear-cut. Just set a timetable (e.g., abortions must be within first trimester). After that point, abortions are illegal unless the life of the mother is in danger. This allows women the right to choose and makes the rape discussion irrelevant. It also prevents women from making a highly developed fetus suffer in a late term abortion due to their indecisiveness. What I don't like about the rape clause is that it's inevitable that some woman is going to claim rape even though the sex was consensual because she does not want to carry out the pregnancy. I guarantee it will happen, and innocent men's lives will be ruined.

    June 17, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  13. Norma jean

    What I tried to say earlier is that women should have the right to any decision regarding their own body....Why is it the men seem to think otherwise.?.Why is female autonomy such a scary subject for men???? Birth control is a necessity but an expensive one to parts of our society..Some of the clinics that have been forced to close came to the rescue of these families.Without it there will always be abortions because many families cannot support large numbers of children..Why is this such a problem for the politicians to understand???

    June 17, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  14. technophile50

    If "the incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low." why are the Republicans so interested in banning these few abortions? Couldn't their energy and political capital be better spent on issues with a greater impact and less political risk? For instance. AGW contributed to 11 extreme weather events in 2012 that totalled ~349 deaths and over 70 billion dollars in damages. Sandy (50 billion) hooked left into New York as a direct result of jet stream changes caused by loss of Arctic Sea Ice, and the drought(20 billion hit to agriculture) was part of the observed changes in the statistical distribution of heat waves. Pretending AGW isn't happening, or that it won't cost anything, or that there is still scientific debate has as high a political risk as alienating women over abortion rights.

    June 17, 2013 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  15. Kravitz

    No man should have a say in this argument. This issue needs to be addressed by women, and women only. The day a man carries a pregnancy full term, is the day they can engage in the discussion, not until.

    June 17, 2013 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  16. Rick

    Roe v Wade is law, but that doesn't always makes it right? There have been Supreme Court rulings that have been overturned over the years. Unfortunately, there is a minor flaw in our judicial system of setting precedence. Obviously I am not a lawyer, but I can't beleive that any 2 (or more) cases are the same. It may be the same crime, but the situations and backgrounds leading up to the crime(s) are usually different in some major or minor detail.

    June 17, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  17. Mark

    Another chapter in the Republican Contract on America.

    June 17, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  18. Janis

    How many times must we go over this issue for the GOP to realize that Roe v Wade is the law of the land? Ole white conservative men, keep your noses out of women's reproductive matters. There are a lot of real problems out there. Like the economy your party swore was going to be it's number one priority. No jobs bills, but over 600 pieces of legislation to regulate a woman's body. Stop it, and do your job. The job you were hired to do!

    June 17, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  19. DougNJ

    If men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament. I heard that back in the early 70's.

    June 17, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  20. Angel

    Late term = viable in MANY instances. And rape? Really in late term? If it were due to rape or incest , I am sure she knew long before.
    And the figure is less than 2% of abortions are due to rape/incest.
    Most are on demand and many use it as back up birth control.
    YES BC fails at times. But what usually fails is being responsible adults.
    Pregnancy is 9 months. MANY diseases are forever or fatal. If limits are placed and abortion on demand restricted more MAYBE JUST MAYBE our young people would not be catching/dying of some of these disease. Maybe they would glove up first...
    Abortion is murder. The fetus FEELS PAIN and this is scientific fact.
    I am so sick of hearing reproductive rights etc. You have the choice BEFORE hopping in bed people.

    June 17, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  21. GAK

    Well the GOP in hopes of not getting pimp slapped on the House floor "decides" to let a woman bring up the issue on the floor ,but doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to include women on the committee..How Reinventing of yourselves!! Isn't it interesting that the sponsor is the same Rep who keeps getting the GOP in trouble with voters and women but doesn't do anything to shut him up on his outrageous comments that have NO factual backing..

    June 17, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  22. Kamikaze

    Wow. I'm glad the GOP keeps acting this way cause my kids are going to grow up never knowing what it's like to have a Republican President.

    June 18, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  23. Mike

    Both the political parties in this country are amazingly stupid! The rapepublicans claim to be for smaller government, except they want to get in your face about religion and sexual behavior, and tell you what you should put in your body. And every once in a while they make statements that would make a caveman shake his head in disbelief. Yet the Democrats think it's ok to spend trillions of dollars of your (and my) money on half-arsed solutions to problems that could be fixed if we expected adults to act like adults, and grow a pair (of testes or ovaries, as appropriate).

    June 18, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  24. binreal

    What about the JOBS????

    June 18, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  25. deserthermit

    Anyone who wants an abortion should get one.any term, any reason. Morning after pills should be air dropped by the plane load over the Bible Belt .

    June 18, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
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