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Abortion bill sponsor adds exception for rape, incest

June 15, 2013 at 1:02 PM

WASHINGTON, June 15 (UPI) -- Exceptions for rape and incest have been added to a U.S. House bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks, the Republican sponsor says.

Rep. Trent Frank, R-Ariz., said he added the amendment after he stirred an uproar with comments about rape and pregnancy, Politico reported Friday.

Responding to a Democratic proposal to allow abortions in cases of rape and incest, Frank said Wednesday "the incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low."

His change requires the rape or incest to have reported to police. That language was not included in the Democratic amendment.

Frank's amendment "is designed to shame and judge victims of violent crimes," said Eric Ferrero, vice president for communications for Planned Parenthood.

Ferrero called the change a "cynical attempt by House leadership to cover up the deeply ignorant and offensive views on women's health expressed by the bill's sponsor."

Frank's bill is based on a belief a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks gestation.

The controversy over Frank's comments caused House leadership to name Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., to manage floor debate on the bill.

Blackburn, a co-sponsor of the bill, said she was asked to lead the debate because of "the amount of pro-life work that I've done throughout my years in Congress."

The bill is scheduled to go to the House floor on Tuesday.

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