Thursday, June 13, 2013

UPDATE, READ: Transcript of Rep. Franks' Controversial Rape/Pregnancy Comments, Full Exchange With Reps. Nadler, Lofgren

Yesterday, we reported on the controversy surrounding comments made by Arizona Rep. Trent Franks (R-CD8) at yesterday's House Judiciary Committee meeting, when he said that the incidence of pregnancies resulting from rapes is very low.  Arizona's Politics posted the video from the entire hearing.

I heard from one reader that they had trouble opening the "wmv" file, and I am sure others either had that problem or did not want to try to find the exchange in the long hearing.  The committee has now posted the transcript from the hearing, which makes it much easier for many to review.

Here is the relevant portion, in which they were discussing an amendment to add exceptions for rape or incest to the (amended) bill.  It begins with Rep. Franks speaking (I have italicized the controversial comment itself to make it slightly easier to review the context of the preceding and following conversation):

Mr. Chairman, the tragedy of rape and incest are almost difficult to articulate. It is an evil that beggars my ability to express. And I think all of us know that here.
And I noticed that the rape/incest exception that the gentleman has doesn't have anything about whether it should be reported or not because all of the other rape and incest exceptions do. They said it should be reported within 48
hours or so.
And yet the difference here is that these babies are going into the sixth month, and the notion that we should wait until the sixth month to report rape or incest is a flawed one. I mean, based on that, why would we have a logical argument not to extend that to 6 months after they were born? I don't think any of us would argue that a child should be killed because of the sins of an evil rapist.
What we need to do is be harder on the rapists. I wonder how many of my colleagues on the other side would say that we should suggest a death penalty for the rapist, but they certainly do for the child.
So, Mr. Chairman, this is the fundamental opposition here should be predicated on the notion that this child is going into the sixth month of pregnancy, as dated by most OB/GYNs and abortionists and neonatologists. And to say that we wait until then to say that there is a rape or incest involved is waiting too long, and that is why I would oppose the amendment.
Mr. Nadler. Would the gentleman yield for a question?
Mr. Franks. Yes.
Mr. Nadler. Thank you.
I am not going to debate the substance of the amendment. The arguments on both sides are, I think, quite well known. But I noticed you asked -- you noted, rather, that the amendment does not make any requirement that the rape or incest be reported.
My question is what difference does that make? What is the point of that?
Mr. Franks. Well, the point I was trying to make, Mr. Nadler, is that before, when my friends on the left side of the aisle here tried to make rape and incest the subject because the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low, but when you make that exception, there is usually a requirement to report the rape within 48 hours. And in this case, that is impossible because this is in the sixth month of gestation, and that is what completely negates and eviscerates the purpose for such an amendment.
Mr. Nadler. I thank the gentleman.
Ms. Lofgren. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. Franks. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
Chairman Goodlatte. Who seeks recognition? The
gentleman from New York, for what purpose do you seek recognition?
Mr. Nadler. Move to strike the last word.
Chairman Goodlatte. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. Nadler. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, I will be brief. I just want to observe that the only reason in this context why a reporting requirement is relevant -- and yes, you are right. If you are talking about a rape that occurred 4 or 5 months ago, she may not have reported it. But what is the difference?
The only reason is if you are really implying that women would lie about a rape in order to get an abortion.
Mr. Gowdy. Would the yield for a question?
Mr. Nadler. Sure.
Mr. Gowdy. Do you not think it is easier to prosecute the rapist the sooner the rape is reported?
Mr. Nadler. Oh, reclaiming my time, I certainly do, and I certainly hope that every rape is reported immediately. But you should know that not every woman reports rape. We should encourage them to do so, obviously.
My point is that in a provision in a bill, rather, or an amendment that says that a pregnancy -- that you can get an abortion under certain circumstances, a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, the reporting requirement there is a condition on getting the abortion, and that doesn't encourage the reporting or that that is simply saying that we don't trust the woman to be truthful about it.
In any event, I think that someone -- clearly, again, I think this whole bill is a travesty. But someone clearly whose pregnancy results from rape or incest should not be forced to carry, in effect, a hostile pregnancy to term.
I yield back.
Ms. Lofgren. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. Nadler. Yes, I will yield.
Ms. Lofgren. I would just like to express my support for Mr. Conyers' amendment. Obviously, even if the amendment is passed, the bill is not worthy of support.
I just find it astonishing to hear a phrase repeated that the incidence of pregnancy from rape is low. That is not -- I mean, there is no scientific basis for that. And the idea that the Republican men on this committee think
they can tell the women of America that they have to carry to term the product of a rape is outrageous. 
The Democrats revisited Rep. Franks' comments later in the hearing.  Rather than posting them here, the interested reader should go to line 1848 (page 91) of the transcript.

(Here is the link to the video that was provided yesterday.)

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