Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) was criticized by congressional colleagues on Wednesday after arguing that pregnancies resulting from rape rarely occur, the Washington Post reported.
“When my friends on the left side of the aisle here tried to make rape and incest the subject — because, you know, the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,” Franks said during a House Judiciary Committee debate on his measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. “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 for such an amendment.”
Democrats on the committee immediately pointed out the similarities between Franks’ statement and failed senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s August 2012 statement that women don’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape.”
“I just find it astonishing to hear a phrase repeated that the incidence of pregnancy from rape is low,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) said in response. “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.”
But as the Post and Think Progress reported, several studies have found that not only do sexual assaults result in higher instances of unintended pregnancies, 32.4 percent of victims do not learn of their pregnancy until their second trimester, which would exceed Franks’ 20-week limit.
An all-male Judiciary subcommittee voted 6-4 on June 4 to approve Franks’ bill, an expansion of a measure that originally covered the District of Columbia.
Update, 2:50 p.m. EST: One of Franks’ fellow Republicans, Massachusetts senatorial candidate Gabriel Gomez, repeatedly called him a “moron” Wednesday in an interview with ABC News.
“I think that he’s a moron and he proves that stupid has no specific political affiliation,” Gomez told the network. “I have no idea what goes into the mind of a moron like that. These kinds of comments only come from a moron and they shouldn’t be tolerated one bit.”
Update, 2:56 p.m. EST: Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards slammed the committee’s decision to pass the 20-week ban in a statement.
“It is extreme, it is unconstitutional, and it would take deeply personal and often complex decisions about pregnancy out of the hands of a woman and her doctor,” Richards said in her statement. “In fact, it could criminalize doctors for performing a lifesaving abortion. Unfortunately, this is part of an orchestrated effort to roll back women’s rights and access to health care across the country — and it is hurting the women who need more access to health care, not less.”
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