By Catalina Camia USA Today Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:58 AM
WASHINGTON — Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said Wednesday that the incidences of pregnancy from rape are “very low,” months after a similar comment led Todd Akin to lose a Senate race in Missouri.
Franks made his statement during a House Judiciary Committee meeting Wednesday on the Arizona congressman’s bill that would ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks’ gestation. The lawmaker’s comments were first reported by The Washington Post.
Franks, a social conservative first elected in 2002, objected to a Democratic amendment that would make exceptions in cases of rape and incest.
“The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,” Franks said, according to The Post.
Franks continued: “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 of such an amendment.”
The comment evoked memories of a remark by then-Rep. Todd Akin, who said in a TV interview last summer that pregnancy can be prevented by a woman involved in a “legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said there is “no veracity” to Akin’s claim.
Akin repeatedly apologized, but he lost support from top Republicans such as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and the Senate GOP campaign committee. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., capitalized on Akin’s remark in the campaign, and she easily defeated him to win a second term.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic National Committee sent out e-mails highlighting Franks’ comment.
EMILY’s List, the group that helps elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, said Franks has “doubled down on ignorant commentary.”
Franks said in a statement on his website that his abortion bill was prompted in part by Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion doctor who was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of three fetuses inadvertently born alive.
“We, as a nation, find ourselves at a point at which we don’t offer unborn children even the most basic protections -- even protections we extend to animals and property,” Franks said this month before his abortion bill was approved by a Judiciary subcommittee. “The trial of Kermit Gosnell exposed late abortions for what they really are: relocated infanticide.”
Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, said the bigger issue is the intent of Franks’ bill and not just his comments Wednesday.
“The Republican assault on women’s rights and opportunities never seems to end,” Schriock said in a statement. “They’re supporting the same anti-woman policies that led voters to reject them during the last election, and trying to rebrand themselves with the hope that nobody will notice.”