Rep.Trent Franks (R., Arizona) Enters Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin Territory

What is it with Republican male politicians and the inability to shut up about rape and abortion? During the election, we saw both Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock both dealt damaging blows to their campaign with comments about the ability of a woman to become pregnant due to rape that had no scientific basis. Since then, several other Republicans have made similar comments, and now Arizona Congressman Trent Franks has added his name to the list:

Another Republican congressman ventured into the realm of rape and pregnancy Wednesday, saying at a committee hearing that incidences of pregnancy from rape are “very low.”

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), whose measure banning abortions after 20 weeks was being considered in the House Judiciary Committee, argued against a Democratic amendment to make exceptions for rape and incest by suggesting that pregnancy from rape is rare.

“Before, 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.

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 for such an amendment.”

Democrats on the committee, including Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), responded by pointing to similar comments made by then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) in his 2012 Senate campaign. Akin suggested that the female body can prevent pregnancy from occurring after a “legitimate rape” — a claim that is not backed up by scientific research and for which Akin apologized.

 Reality, of course, is actually quite different from what Franks said today. In 2003, a study from St. Lawrence University found that rates of pregnancy from rape were actually somewhat higher for victims of rape and incest than for women who have consensual sex. Another study publishes only two years ago found higher rates of pregnancy for victims of sexual violence.

Leaving the studies aside, though, one wonders why it is that Republican male politicians can’t just keep their mouths shut when this topic comes up.

Update: Jonathan Chait, hardly a Republican, cautions against being harsh on Franks:

Franks didn’t say the “rate” of pregnancy from rape is low. He said the “incidence” is low. He didn’t say it’s hard to get pregnant when you’re raped. He said rape-induced pregnancy doesn’t happen very often.

Is that claim, which is different than Akin’s, true? Well, there are about 30,000 pregnancies from rape a year. I’d say that’s a lot. I suppose that if you’re comparing it to the total number of abortions, a figure that’s 20 to 30 times larger, you could argue it isn’t so many. From Franks’s starting point, in which which abortion is murder, the United States allows massive murder of human beings on an unthinkable scale, next to which 30,000 annual pregnancies looms small. If (like me) you don’t share his view of abortion, that 30,000 pregnancies looms large.

In any case, Franks was not relying on pseudoscientific nuttery about the lady-parts shutting down pregnancy in the case of rape. He was saying something different.

Perhaps he was, but at the same time he’s revealing just how weird the world view of the no-exceptions pro-life crowd actually is.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Gender Issues, Health Care, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rafer Janders says:

    What is it with Republican male politicians and the inability to shut up about rape and abortion?

    The question isn’t why won’t they shut up about it? The question is why do they believe this stuff in the first place.

    In fact, given that that’s what they actually believe, I don’t want them to shut up about it. I want them to broadcast their odious views far and wide, so that voters know just what these guys really think.

  2. Blue Galangal says:

    I”m waiting for the parallel bill to be introduced requiring rapists to have their wages automatically garnished, with no court costs or administrative fees to be paid by their victim, for those “products of rape.”

    I imagine I’ll be waiting a while.

  3. legion says:

    one wonders why it is that Republican male politicians can’t just keep their mouths shut when this topic comes up.

    Because they’re terrible people, Doug. That’s not hyperbole, and it’s not snark. Republican politicians are genuinely despicable human beings. They’re ignorant, and proud of their ignorance. They’re petty, bigoted, entitled, and sociopathic. _All_ of them. Yes, some people who aren’t Republican politicians have those same characteristics, but truthfully, _all_ Republican politicians are just like this. S’true.

  4. Gromitt Gunn says:

    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 for such an amendment.”

    Yes, because women always report sex crimes right away. And they are always in an emotional space to decide whether or not to keep any potential pregnancies right away.

    Troglodytes.

  5. Caj says:

    The Republican Party is a party of complete fools! How any woman can belong to that party I do not know! They are not stuck on stupid, they were born stupid I reckon!

  6. stonetools says:

    Leaving the studies aside, though, one wonders why it is that Republican male politicians can’t just keep their mouths shut when this topic comes up.

    Because they sincerely believe this stuff. I for one am glad that they are so honest, so that the American people can see them coming. The smarter ones (like Governor McDonnell) hide their beliefs, attract the votes of “independents” with pablum about “limited government ” and “lower taxes”, and then implement their anti-women rights program once they are in office. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

  7. Tabby says:

    WashPost took it out of context…

    – And for the record, conception due to rape resulting in abortion is a tiny percentage of total abortions. Around 1%. Late term abortions even more so.

    This is nothing more than democrats attempting to do as well politically as they did with Akin by publishing misleading info.

  8. CSK says:

    This is the kind of statement that makes socially liberal northeastern Republicans want to slit their throats.

  9. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: And, seriously, how does an exception for rape or incest work, anyway? Is it enough to say you’re raped, or that you had sex with your brother or father? If that’s the case, then it isn’t much of an exception, is it? So, if it isn’t enough to merely attest to rape or incest, then what? An indictment? A conviction? You couldn’t possibly have a conviction as a necessity, since trials last longer than pregnancies.

    I think the whole think is a charade to make people with more moderate opinions on abortion (its horrible, but there are certain circumstances where forcing a woman to give birth is even worse) feel better about radical anti-abortion politics. In reality, the anti-abortion folks have created a test that is designed to be unpassable – if all you have to do is *say* you were raped, than any slut – who is already filthy disgusting impure and immoral – will be willing to lie in order to be a baby killer. And if you have to prove rape / incest in order to get an abortion, unless you can get a confession from the man in a very short window, there’s no way to prove guilt before the baby is born.

  10. Rob Prather says:

    I’ll say it again: Republicans should just stop talking about women, period. For their own good.

  11. stonetools says:

    @Tabby:

    This is nothing more than democrats attempting to do as well politically as they did with Akin by publishing misleading info

    Again, Tabby gives us a good insight into the mind of the Republican base. She sees nothing wrong with what Akin or Todd said. Women who conceive through rape and incest SHOULD be forced to carry their fetuses to term. If you disagree with that, that’s just proof that you are being misled by the liberal “lame stream” media.
    I’m sure Frank and Akin made the same or similar statements before “Republican base” crowds and were cheered for it. In fact, banning all abortions is part of the national Republican Party platform.
    So why should they shut up about it? There’s really only one reason-because it embarrasses independents and moderate Republicans like “you know who” and “you know else”, when they vote Republican. Independents and “moderate” Republicans want to preserve a kind of “plausible deniability” when they vote Republican. When the Republicans they vote for roll out anti-woman rights stuff , they can then say , “HOOCOODANODE! I voted for limited government, and besides, my parents voted Republican.” They can’t do that if the Republican candidates are indiscreet.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Rob Prather: No. No. A hundred timesno . Republicans should continue to speak openly and honestly about their views. For the good of the rest of us.

  13. Barry says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: “Franks continued: “But when you make that exception, there’s usually a requirement to report the rape within 48 hours.”

    I don’t believe so.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    What is it with Republican male politicians and the inability to shut up about rape and abortion?

    In a word? Homeschooling.

  15. Franklin says:

    @Tabby: Just FYI, more like 3-5% according to Chait’s numbers.

  16. CSK says:

    Well, Gabe Gomez just called Franks “a moron,” which is refreshingly direct, and pretty much encapsulates the sentiments of his fellow Massachusetts Republicans and Libertarians.

  17. Cris says:

    Although his pro-life ethic is commendable he is absolutely misinformed – see
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/22/opinion/prewitt-rapist-visitation-rights

  18. Tano says:

    @Tabby:

    , conception due to rape resulting in abortion is a tiny percentage of total abortions

    Franks did not attempt to characterize the percentage of abortions that are due to rape, he clearly addressed the question of (to quote directly) “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy…”.

    And for those who do not understand the meaning of “incidence” (like Jonathan Chait) it is:
    “The occurrence, rate, or frequency of a disease, crime, or something else undesirable”

  19. Justin says:

    I”m waiting for the parallel bill to be introduced requiring rapists to have their wages automatically garnished, with no court costs or administrative fees to be paid by their victim, for those “products of rape.”

    I’m waiting for the introduction of a parallel bill that absolves the boys and men who are raped by women from the requirement to pay child support to their rapists when their rapists choose to continue with the resulting pregnancy…

  20. Justin says:

    Is that claim, which is different than Akin’s, true? Well, there are about 30,000 pregnancies from rape a year. I’d say that’s a lot. I suppose that if you’re comparing it to the total number of abortions, a figure that’s 20 to 30 times larger, you could argue it isn’t so many.

    Putting aside the question of whether there ought to or ought not to be rape and incest exceptions to an abortion ban, the comparison is not an appropriate comparison when trying to argue whether or not 30,000 pregnancies from rape per year is a lot of pregnancies. The appropriate comparison is 30,000 pregnancies from rape per year compared to over 6,500,000 pregnancies as a whole. While it may be a large number by itself, when compared to the number of pregnancies as a whole, 30,000 pregnancies from rape per year is an insignificant number.

  21. legion says:

    @Justin: Wow – you’re just a despicable waste of DNA, aren’t you?

  22. Tillman says:

    I get where people are coming from when they say they want Republicans to voice their abortion views more often. It’s a craven political desire, but it’s entirely understandable.

    However, I, as a vigilant believer in human reason, cannot believe anyone’s dumb enough to be a Republican and talk about rape or abortion after the Akin-Mourdoch Power Duo mess. Come on!

  23. ernieyeball says:

    @Tillman: vigilant believer in human reason.

    There must be something in that tea you are drinking…

  24. ernieyeball says:

    @Tillman: I can’t imagine that it is the humans that you observe that support your belief. It must be something else.

  25. Tillman says:

    @ernieyeball: My faith is challenged, constantly and mercilessly.

  26. stonetools says:

    @Tillman:

    However, I, as a vigilant believer in human reason, cannot believe anyone’s dumb enough to be a Republican and talk about rape or abortion after the Akin-Mourdoch Power Duo mess. Come on!

    Thank goodness that so many are that dumb! Would that they all were.

  27. al-Ameda says:

    What “War on Women”? Why, Trent Franks is just another white male legislator who knows more about a woman’s reproductive health than any woman does.

    The GOP effort to rebrand themselves continues ….

  28. superdestroyer says:

    Setting aside the partisan politics, isn’t this a case study in how inept and stupid politicians can be. If a Republican is going to take a hardline on abortion, they should realize that they are going to get the rape question. Yet, the politicians and their staffs seem to refuse to think about how to effectively respond. Are the politicians really this stupid? Are they really that lazy that they refuse to practice their response? Are their staffs so incompetent that they are either unable to anticipate the questions that the media will ask or unable to adequately prepare their bosses for media interview.

    If a politicians is unable to anticipate questions from the media, how are they capable of realizing the long term consequences of their policy proposals.

  29. I love reading a post that can make men and women think.
    Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!

  30. Tillman says:

    @superdestroyer: I know, right?! There’s multifaceted failure here.

  31. Pinky says:

    This is what Gavin McGinnis calls a “hate fact”. It’s something that’s demonstrably true, but offends people so much that we’re supposed to act like it’s false. Franks was saying what we’re not supposed to. The vast majority of abortions aren’t from rape or incest, and don’t endanger the life of the mother. They’re also not partial-birth abortions of viable fetuses. Both sides try to keep the argument on the tiny fringes of the abortion debate that most people can agree upon.