A bill to ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks cleared a House panel today on a party-line vote of 20-12. While it doesn't stand a chance in the Senate, it will give House conservatives a chance to make a point when that chamber votes as early as next week, reports AP. Today's vote, however, got overshadowed when sponsor Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican, said this while criticizing an amendment to make an exception for rape or incest: "You know, the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low." Democrats immediately likened the comment to Todd Akin's gaffe that "legitimate rape" rarely caused pregnancies, reports the Hill.
Franks later clarified: He intended to make the point that rape rarely causes the pregnancies that result in the later-term abortions he wants to ban, and the issue is therefore irrelevant to his bill. However you parse it, both Dave Weigel at Slate and Jonathan Chait at New York say Franks is no Todd Akin. Unlike Akin, Franks "didn't say it's hard to get pregnant when you're raped," writes Chait. "He said rape-induced pregnancy doesn't happen very often," and that's a big difference. Given that 30,000 such pregnancies occur each year, plenty of people might disagree with Franks' statement. But to a staunch opponent of abortion like Franks, that number may seem small when compared to the far higher number of abortions annually. At Atlantic Wire, Elspeth Reeve has a less-forgiving view of Franks' comments. (Read more abortion stories.)