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Editorial: Franks’ facts

We recognize that the issue of abortion is a lightning rod for strong opinions in this country, especially in the halls of Congress.

We also understand that in the heat of such debates, people can say things that can misconstrued or misunderstood. We also know that usually such comments, when said in the heat of the moment, can better reflect an individual’s thinking than carefully constructed press releases.

We think that’s the case with Rep. Trent Franks and his recent comments on rape.

During a House hearing this week on a bill that would create a national ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In referring to a Democrat’s amendment that would exclude those women whose pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, the Republican lawmaker from Arizona had this to say:

“Before, when my friends on the left side of the aisle here tried to make rape and incest the subject — because, you know, the incidences of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low. 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.”

Franks has made it clear throughout his political career that he’s against abortion. According to the “Almanac of American Politics,” for example, he introduced a bill in 2009 that would criminalize abortion based on the sex or race of the child. That year, he also called President Barack Obama “an enemy of humanity” because of his support for abortion rights. A year later, the Arizona congressman said that abortions, not slavery, had done more to destroy a large part of the African-American population.

Franks’ anti-abortion stance is a straight up and down issue, one where there are no exceptions.

So we have no problem in calling Franks out on the statement, “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”

It’s simply not true.

In one study, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that more than 30,000 pregnancies result from rape in the United States each year. Last year, after another Republican, Todd Akin of Missouri, declared women’s bodies somehow biologically shut down rape-induced pregnancies, to say nothing about “legitimate rapes,” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement that such remarks are “medically inaccurate, offensive, and dangerous.

“Each year in the U.S., 10,000 to 15,000 abortions occur among women whose pregnancies are a result of reported rape or incest. An unknown number of pregnancies resulting from rape are carried to term.”

“I just find it astonishing to hear a phrase repeated that the incidence of pregnancy from rape is low,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said at the hearing.

“There’s no scientific basis for that. ...”

But when have the facts stopped Rep. Franks?

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