On Wednesday, Representative Trent Franks argued that the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortion after twenty weeks, did not need Democrat-proposed exceptions for rape or incest because, “The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee agreed enough to approve the bill, but the Arizona Republican’s comments (which either were or were not worse than Todd Akin’s legendary abortion gaffe) drew some unwanted media attention to the legislation. In what appears to be an attempt to limit the fallout, the House Rules Committee’s GOP leadership has quietly amended the bill to include previously dismissed rape and incest exceptions, though women hoping to make use of them would be required to report the crimes to the police before getting the abortion.
Also, a female abortion opponent, Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, will now oversee the debate of the bill (which Franks sponsored) when the entire House takes it up next week. Unsurprisingly, the changes were not enough to win the hearts and minds of the pro-choice crowd. Planned Parenthood Eric Ferrero called the last-minute rape and incest provision, “A cynical political attempt by House leadership to cover up the deeply ignorant and offensive views on women’s health expressed by the bill’s sponsor.” Putting Blackburn’s female face in front is similarly unlikely to fool anyone.