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.