9 Messed Up Things Politicians Have Said About Pregnancy
Over the years politicians have made more than a few bizarre, scientifically unfounded, and even downright disturbing comments about pregnancy and women's reproductive rights. Whether they're looking to regulate them, understand them, or simply scrutinize them, politicians continue to make some truly confounding statements about women's bodies, especially pregnant women's bodies. Don't believe me? Check out these nine totally messed up things politicians have said about pregnancy.
While much of politicians' comments on pregnancy stem from debate over abortion and women's reproductive rights, there have been politicians (I'm looking at you, President Donald Trump) who've commented on pregnancy in a more general sense. But whether they're touting inaccurate claims about "legitimate rape" never ending in pregnancy in an effort to defend anti-abortion legislation or arguing that rape-related pregnancies are "God's gift," many politicians clearly need a wake up call when it comes to the politics and science of pregnancy.
However, as long as anti-abortion bills and strict abortion restrictions continue to be introduced in state and national legislatures it is likely that a handful of politicians will, sadly, likely, continue to make ill-informed and totally inane comments about pregnancy, women's bodies, and reproductive rights.
Here are nine totally bizarre things politicians have said about pregnancy:
Rep. George Faught On How God Brings "Beauty From Ashes" With Rape-Related Pregnancies
"Life, no matter how it is conceived, is valuable and something to be protected. Let me be clear, God never approves of rape or incest. However, even in the worst circumstances, God can bring beauty from ashes."
In March, Oklahoma state Rep. George Faught defended his anti-abortion bill, which made no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, by arguing that rape and incest could be God's will. In a written statement provided to a local Oklahoma affiliate of NBC shortly after the House passed his bill, Rep. Faught said that pregnancies resulting from rape or incest were evidence God "can bring beauty from ashes."
Rep. Justin Humphrey On Women As "Hosts"
"I understand that [women] feel like that is their body. I feel like it is a separate — what I call [women] is, is you're a 'host.' And you know when you enter into a relationship you're going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don't get pregnant... I'm like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you're irresponsible then don't claim, 'well, I can just go and do this with another body,' when you're the host and you invited that in."
In February, Oklahoma state Rep. Justin Humphrey introduced a bill requiring women to obtain written consent from the man who impregnated them before having an abortion. Intent on truly upsetting women and reproductive rights advocates, Rep. Humphrey told the Intercept he saw women as "hosts" who, in having sex, are inviting pregnancy and should thus take greater responsibility.
Rep. Michael Burgess On Masturbating Fetuses
"There's no question in my mind...that a baby at 20 weeks after conception can feel pain... Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful. They stroke their face. If they're a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. They feel pleasure. Why is it so hard to think that they could feel pain?"
In 2013, Rep. Michael Burgess said he was certain fetuses could feel pain because he had seen them masturbating in sonograms. Burgess' comments came in defense of a bill which would have banned abortion at 20-weeks. Medical professionals, however, have refuted claims fetuses under 20-weeks can feel pain as connections in the brain that register such sensation and emotion are not fully formed until weeks later.
Rep. Cathrynn Brown On Equating Ending A Rape-Related Pregnancy To Evidence Tampering
"Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime."
In January of 2013, New Mexico Republican state Rep. Cathrynn Brown introduced a bill that would classify abortions obtained in cases of rape or incest as felony evidence tampering. Under Brown's bill abortions of rape or incest-related pregnancies would be punishable by up to three years in prison. When the bill was met with major outrage, Brown attempted to clarify the bill was meant to help prosecutors go after rapists, not penalize women who have abortions.
Todd Akin On Pregnancy & "Legitimate Rape"
"It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy resulting from rape is] really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Senate candidate Todd Akin's comments about legitimate rape are infamous. He dropped the line during an interview with a St. Louis TV station in 2012 and then watched as his campaign quickly died. For the record, pregnancy resulting from a rape can totally happen. A 1996 study from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported there had been 32,101 cases of rape-related pregnancies in the United States during the course of the year.
Rick Santorum On Rape-Related Pregnancies Being God's Gift
"I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you."
In an 2012 interview with CNN, then-Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said he was staunchly opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape. Santorum went on to argue that pregnancies resulting from rape were a gift and women needed to "accept what God has given" them. The Republican added he thought rape victims should "make the best of a bad situation" by, I guess, potentially derailing their life plan and mental health to have their rapist's baby.
Bob Marshall On Disabled Children Being God's Punishment For Abortion
"The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children. In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There's a special punishment Christians would suggest."
In 2010, while arguing for the defunding of Planned Parenthood Virginia Del. Bob Marshall suggested that having an abortion would lead to an increased risk of bearing children "with handicaps" later on because God punished those who "abort the first born." He went on to characterize Planned Parenthood as "unethical, immoral and racist."
Donald Trump On The Inconvenience Of Pregnancy
"[Pregnancy is] a wonderful thing for the woman, it's a wonderful thing for the husband, it's certainly an inconvenience for a business. And whether people want to say that or not, the fact is it is an inconvenience for a person that is running a business."
In an Oct. 2004 interview with NBC's Dateline, President Donald Trump said he felt pregnancies were "wonderful" for the family but ultimately "an inconvenience" for a person running a business like him.
Rep. Henry Aldridge On Pregnancy & Being "Truly Raped"
"The facts show that people who are raped - who are truly raped - the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work and they don't get pregnant."
Akin isn't the only politician to imply that a woman's body would prevent them from getting pregnant if the rape was "real." In 1995, then 71-year-old Republican Rep. Henry Aldridge told a House Appropriations Committee debating legislation eliminating a North Carolina state abortion fund for low-income women that a woman who is "truly raped" would not get pregnant.