WASHINGTON — A House Republican drew a sharp response during debate on an abortion bill when he said that the number of pregnancies resulting from rape is very low.
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., later sought to clarify his remark, saying he intended to say that later-term abortions linked to pregnancies caused by rape are infrequent.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, where Franks made his original comment, quickly compared it to the statement made by former Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., that women’s bodies can avoid pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” Akin’s 2012 campaign for a Senate seat in Missouri foundered after the comment.
Franks’ original comment Wednesday was: “The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said that assertion was not based on scientific fact and Rep. Jerrold Nadler cited several studies that found that rape results in higher levels of unintended pregnancies. The committee was debating, and later approved, a Franks-sponsored bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancies.
His comment came when Democrats proposed an amendment to make an exception to that ban in the case of rape or incest. Franks said that what he meant to say was that abortions occurring after the beginning of the sixth month of pregnancy, which would be prohibited under his legislation, rarely are the result of rapes.
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