Yesterday, Rep. Ted Franks spoke before a judiciary committee about a bill to ban abortion after the twentieth week. He urged them to dismiss a Democratic amendment that would allow exceptions for instances of rape, incest and where the health of the mother is in danger. Franks said, “The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”
Aside from the factual inaccuracy and the grammatical mistake, the comment is also irrelevant to the debate. Whatever the rate of pregnancy after rape (the same rate of pregnancy after consensual sex) the bill in question addresses only incidences of pregnancy and the rate does not matter. Unsurprisingly, the comment has gone viral and is being used to trounce the all-male Republican House Judiciary Committee.
Franks has taken measures to clarify his intentions with the statement.
His spokesperson reports, “The intention was to comment on the number of abortions that occur at the sixth month and beyond.”
Since the comment did not mention abortion, this latter statement smacks of cover-up rather than clarification. The spokesperson would have been better off explaining the comment literally; the incidence of pregnancy from rape, as well as from consensual sex, is very low with roughly 5 percent of intercourse resulting in fertilization.
Abortion is one of the most polemic political battles because it divides politicians on their core beliefs about the nature life. They do not often get the chance to wax philosophical in the House Appropriations Committee. To Franks, a fetus is a person, a human life. For him and many others, even the tragedy of rape does not justify the murder of a life. This includes even the horror of incest. It is difficult for those who are pro-choice to empathize when they fundamentally differ on what qualifies as life. The life most apparent life in the matter is that of the woman. Where they see a woman, Franks sees a mother. Where they see a fetus, Franks sees a person. Where they see rape, Franks seeks to prevent murder.