Bloomberg News

Republican Leaders Replace Franks With Woman to Debate Abortion

June 13, 2013

U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn will replace Representative Trent Franks to manage debate on a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy after he questioned whether many pregnancies are caused by rape, said House Republican leadership aides.

The decision to replace Franks, an Arizona Republican, comes a day after Democrats pounced on his comment in a House Judiciary Committee meeting that “the incidence of rape resulting from pregnancy is very low.”

Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, will be floor manager for the bill when the House brings it up for a vote next week, said two aides who asked not to be identified to discuss a decision that hasn’t been officially announced.

“Marsha would be a wonderful person to speak to it on the floor,” Franks said in an interview today. “We do that many times where we have different people speaking to different bills. I think she would be a wonderful candidate for for that.”

Franks declined to say whether Blackburn was the official choice. Still, the six-term lawmaker said he will play whatever role he is assigned.

“I’m a policy guy, I just want the right thing to happen and if there are better voices than mine, then bring them on,” Franks said.

Franks’s measure, H.R. 1797, was approved yesterday by an all-male Republican majority in the House Judiciary Committee.

Remark ‘Astonishing’

During the panel’s debate yesterday, Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren of California called Franks’s remark “astonishing.” She said the “the idea that the Republican men on this committee can tell the women of America that they have to carry to term the product of rape is outrageous.”

The Judiciary Committee’s 20-12 vote to approve the bill “provides the Democrats with an abundance of message opportunities to solidify their very strong position with female voters,” Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said in a telephone interview.

Franks’s comments had political reverberations in Massachusetts, where Gabriel Gomez, the Republican candidate in a June 25 special election for a Senate seat, sought yesterday to disassociate himself from the remarks.

“He’s a moron and he proves that ‘stupid’ has no specific political affiliation,” Gomez told ABC News. He is running against Democratic Representative Ed Markey for the seat previously held by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Distorted Meaning

Franks accused Democrats of distorting his meaning. “Unfortunately, I perhaps assisted a little bit in the phraseology that allowed them to do it,” he told reporters.

The six-term lawmaker said during the debate on a Democratic amendment to provide an exception for rape victims, he was trying to state that “pregnancies from rape that result in the mother deciding to abort after the sixth month begins are very, very rare.”

The Democratic amendment was rejected.

To contact the reporters on this story: Roxana Tiron in Washington at rtiron@bloomberg.net; James Rowley in Washington at jarowley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net


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