After reopening wounds that leaders in the Republican Party had hoped were sewn up, GOP Rep. Trent Franks is now quietly retreating on his bill to ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks.
Franks' "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" will now include an exception for rape and incest. And to boot, Franks will no longer be managing debate on his own bill once it hits the House floor on Tuesday. Rep. Marsha Blackburn's office told Politico Friday the Tennessee Republican will be taking the reins.
During a mark-up meeting Wednesday, Franks argued against including rape or incest exceptions by saying women pregnant as a result of rape would not likely wait 20 weeks before seeking an abortion. "The incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low," Franks said.
Democrats quickly jumped on Franks' remarks to link him to Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's claims last fall on "legitimate rape." White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Thursday said Franks' comments show an "alarming disregard for women."
The abortion exception for cases rape and incest now falls outside the Republican Party's platform. But Franks, whose Arizona district covers the western suburbs of Phoenix, had previously reserved the bill to apply to only female residents in the District of Columbia—where voters are not afforded full representation in Congress. That version never saw the House floor, but this nationwide abortion ban was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on a 20-12 party-line vote.