Rape and Pregnancy: Right-Wing Politicians Just. Don't. Get. It.

by Dan Quinn

After last year’s embarrassments, how is it possible that right-wing politicians still say such profoundly ignorant things about rape? We sure don’t know. But Congressman Trent Franks, R-Ariz., did it again today. He was explaining why his proposed legislation banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy shouldn’t have exceptions for rape and incest. From the Washington Post:

“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 of 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.

“I just find it astonishing to hear a phrase repeated that the incidence of pregnancy from rape is low,” Lofgren said. “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.”

As the Post’s Sarah Kliff noted at the time of Akin’s comments, a 2003 study from St. Lawrence University actually found that pregnancy results from rape significantly more often it does in other cases.

A 2011 study from San Francisco State University found that, in Colombia, “female youth who have experienced sexual violence report significantly higher levels of unintended pregnancy and unmet need for contraception and lower levels of current modern contraceptive use compared to those who have not experienced sexual violence.”

We wonder why right-wing politicians in Texas haven’t been caught promoting the rape/pregnancy nonsense (yet). Of course, we do have politicians who seem to think fetuses should be armed and that the state should declare “war on birth control.”

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