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Update:See also, "Fetal Anomalies, Undue Burdens, and 20-week Abortion Bans" by Lisa M. Corrigan, Ph.D for further discussion as well as her previous article on fetal pain.
“Pregnancies from rape that result in abortion after the beginning of the sixth month are very rare,” Franks said in a statement sent to TPM. “This bill does not address unborn children in earlier gestations. Indeed, the bill does nothing to restrict abortions performed before the beginning of the 6th month.”
The title of this blog post comes from the one excerpted above. Emily Bazelon had a blog post entitled "The Myth That Rape Rarely Causes Pregnancy Comes From Nazi Experiments." She went from the above statement (connected to a proposal to pass a national ban on abortions after twenty weeks) to the "legitimate rape" comments of Todd Akins. They are not the same thing though both violate the "rape is a four letter word" rule Republican politicians are warned about by concerned party onlookers. So, it seemed a bit off to me on some level.
Chris Hayes recently tweeted a segment he did on his show generally pissed off at such to him legislative trolling, including comments that victims of rape should not be told to further the wrong by aborting the child. The congressman is pro-life and his wider message does sound like he -- if given his druthers -- would generally not provide a rape exception for abortion, even if here it is true he is specifically concerned about something where rape is likely to be an issue. Hayes was upset about ideological efforts like this with no chance of passage, but that is a common path for modern day Republicans. Legislators, especially in the House, push certain things sometimes. Republicans take it up a notch.
Yes, given all the pregnancies and abortions out there, rape is rarely involved. But, one number cited was that rape leads to tens of thousands of pregnancies in this country, so in raw numbers, rape is not that rare. Then, there is this specific provision. Violating Casey based on unsubstantial fetal pain claims, putting aside the problem with making it a national law (what? under the Commerce Clause? really?) is generally a bad idea. Still, if you are for it, why not include a rape exception, since you know, is is so "very rare," and is therefore allegedly basically symbolic. The argument probably would be that women would just lie.
When we are dealing with abortions after twenty weeks, there is no mundane cases. The likely cases involve fetal abnormalities or threats to the health of the woman. A few cases might involve delayed abortions based on youth, poverty or other reasons, worsened by sectarian anti-abortion laws that do not evenhandedly apply health regulations. This overall subset again might involve victims of sex crimes. Not having an exception overall is upsetting since it reflects a failure to respect the girls and women involved as compared to a one note focus on "life."
[Update: The bill was revised to include a rape and incest exemption when it was reported to the authorities before the abortion took place]
So, the critics that connect Franks to Akins have a point, and besides, a politician lives and dies by the trope -- nuance is a good value, but it is not something you really can rely on, especially when even on close examination, your stance is problematic at the end of the day anyhow.