Trent Franks Rape Comment: No, Trent Franks Didn't Pull A "Todd Akin"


Yesterday, PolicyMic editor Elizabeth Plank wrote about Rep. Trent Franks' (R-Ariz.) remarks about rape and pregnancy. Plank, citing left-wing rag ThinkProgress, quoted the congressman, who is trying to curb infanticide in this country, saying that "the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low, so we don't need to permit abortions in these cases." This was said during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks, and Franks is right. According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, just 5% of sexual assaults result in a pregnancy: "In 2004-2005, 64,080 women were raped. According to medical reports, the incidence of pregnancy for one-time unprotected sexual intercourse is 5%. By applying the pregnancy rate to 64,080 women, RAINN estimates that there were 3,204 pregnancies as a result of rape during that period."  

Yet because some attackers use condoms, many women use contraception, and foreign objects are used in some sexual assaults, the real incidence might actually be lower than 5%. Even so, many on the left are trying to tie Franks to the inane statements Todd Akin made about this subject in 2012. He said, infamously, that women could "shut that whole [pregnancy] thing down," if they were attacked. It cost him the Missouri Senate election, but Trent Franks isn't Todd Akin. 

Even liberals know this isn't same thing. Jonathan Chait of New York magazine, wrote on June 13: "Franks didn't say the 'rate' of pregnancy from rape is low. He said the 'incidence' is low. He didn't say it's hard to get pregnant when you're raped. He said rape-induced pregnancy doesn't happen very often. Is that claim, which is different than Akin's, true? Well, there are about 30,000 pregnancies from rape a year. I'd say that's a lot. I suppose that if you're comparing it to the total number of abortions, a figure that's 20 to 30 times larger, you could argue it isn't so many. ...

In any case, Franks was not relying on pseudoscientific nuttery about the lady-parts shutting down pregnancy in the case of rape. He was saying something different."

Slate's Dave Weigel wrote on the same day that "not every comment about rape and abortion is a 'Todd Akin' comment.  In 2012 Todd Akin said something uniquely stupid, with roots in anti-abortion psuedoscience — that a 'legitimate,' violent rape, being so stressful to the woman, was unlikely to cause pregnancy ... He [Franks] referred to 'the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy,' not the question of whether rape can cause pregnancy."

The fact that Democrats are calling for an exception to this bill is a tacit admission that pregnancy from rape is rare. Nonetheless, Franks isn't without blame here. There are a numerous arguments one can make to support banning abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Rape shouldn't be the first thing on that list.  

Conservatives already know that the majority of the news media hate us. We shouldn't be giving liberals easy cannon fodder, which can be used to pivot the narrative away from Obama's growing list of scandals and his crumbling second term. Lastly, while I support the bill, shouldn't Republicans be devoting all their energy in obtaining answers for the pervasive culture of misconduct that's becoming a characteristic of this administration?

Oh, and there's this little thing called the economy. Yet, at the same time, Obama can't speak to that either since he's only devoted 3.6% of his presidency to fixing that issue.

Nevertheless, when it comes to the awful reality of sexual assault in America, the next time a politician, from either side, brings up rape, it should be how we can prevent it here, there, and everywhere. Yes, this is where I agree with feminists.