WASHINGTON -- After an all-male group of Republicans voted on Wednesday to advance an anti-abortion bill with no exceptions for rape victims, a member of their own caucus decried their "stupidity."
“I’ll be very frank: I discouraged our leadership from bringing this to a vote on the floor,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) told CQ Roll Call. “Clearly the economy is on everyone’s minds, we’re seeing very stagnant job numbers, confidence in the institution of government is eroding and now we’re going to have a debate on rape and abortion.
“The stupidity is simply staggering,” Dent said.
The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to advance the bill, which bans abortions 20 weeks after fertilization unless the woman's life is in danger. Democrats proposed an amendment that would have exempted rape and incest victims from the bill, which prompted Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) to make a misguided comment about rape and abortion.
“The instance of pregnancy resulting from rape is very low," Franks said, noting that he would be voting against the amendment.
The comment revived the controversy former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) stirred up last year when he said "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancy.
Like Akin's, Franks's claim is not supported by research. Medical experts agree that rape and consensual sex are equally likely to result pregnancy, and a 1996 study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that more than 30,000 pregnancies result from rape in the United States each year.
Franks walked back his comment in an interview with NBC News producer Frank Thorp on Wednesday, claiming that he was referring to "the incidences where pregnancy from rape results in an abortion after the sixth month or beyond."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has indicated that he will bring the abortion bill to the floor for a full vote next week.