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Steve King’s View of Rape and Incest Is Not Abnormal Among GOP Lawmakers

King’s comments provoked outrage, but the underlying views are squarely in the GOP mainstream 

BOONE, IA - AUGUST 13: U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks during a town hall meeting at the Ericson Public Library on August 13, 2019 in Boone, Iowa. Steve King, who was stripped of House committee assignments earlier this year after making racist comments spoke about immigration and the U.S. and Mexico border. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

AUGUST 13: U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks during a town hall meeting at the Ericson Public Library on August 13, 2019 in Boone, Iowa. Steve King, who was stripped of House committee assignments earlier this year after making racist comments spoke about immigration and the U.S. and Mexico border.

Joshua Lott/Getty Images

At a breakfast meeting of the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa on Wednesday, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) paused to muse upon the sheer magnitude of violence visited upon women and children throughout the course of human history. 

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled out anyone who was a product of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” King asked. (He was discussing his view that abortion should be illegal under any circumstance, including rape or incest.)

“Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that happened throughout all these different nations — I know that I can’t say that I was not a part of a product of that.”

King’s comments, since first being reported by the Des Moines Register, have rightfully provoked outrage, but it’s worth noting the underlying views are not at all outside the Republican mainstream. 

King was referring to the “Heartbeat Protection Act,’ his legislation to outlaw  abortion around six weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The measure was co-sponsored by 89(!) House Republicans, several of whom released statements trumpeting their support

That bill never made it out of committee, but a similar bill — again, with no exceptions for rape or incest — passed the Alabama state legislature a few months later with the support of 99 Republicans (74 in the house and 25 in the Senate) before it was signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey. A similar bill also passed in Louisiana

Earlier this year, a conservative group — Students for Life in America — even lobbied the RNC to include explicit opposition to exceptions for rape or incest part of the GOP party platform. RNC chair Ronna McDaniel demurred. “Personally, I would have the exceptions,” McDaniel said on CNN. “That’s my personal belief. But we are a party that is a broad tent.”

And in that broad tent, Steve King — a white nationalist — fits right in. But the woman who would prefer not to carry her rapist’s child to term? Not so much.

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