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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Back issues
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‘Legitimate Rape’ Law|Sparks a Dustup

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) - A Republican lawmaker in Missouri has drawn fire for introducing a bill that would require women seeking abortion to get permission from the baby's father, except in cases of incest or "legitimate rape."

State Rep. Rick Brattin of Harrisonville filed the bill. Brattin introduced similar legislation that died in committee in the last session. That measure that died quietly, but not this time around.

"Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it," Brattin told Mother Jones magazine. "So you couldn't just go and say, 'Oh yeah, I was raped' and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape."

Brattin told The Associated Press he was not trying to define "legitimate rape," but said women would have to prove that a rape occurred before qualifying for the exclusion.

The bill does not list any consequences for noncompliance and no hearings have been scheduled for it yet.

Nevertheless, the bill has drawn scorn from pro-choice advocates.

"This bill is insulting and a danger to women in abusive relationships," M'Evie Mead, the director of statewide organizing for Missouri's Planned Parenthood affiliates, told Mother Jones. "That's very much our concern. But when it comes to abortion, Missouri legislators are always trying to outdo each other."

Missouri's Republican-dominated Legislature has passed some of the toughest abortion laws in the country.

In September, Missouri lawmakers overrode Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a bill that made a 72-hour waiting period between initial consultation and abortion mandatory, which ties Missouri for the longest wait in the country.

Missouri's GOP has been burned by the "legitimate rape" topic before.

Comments about "legitimate rape" led to former Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin's demise against Claire McCaskill in a much-publicized race for U.S. Senate in 2012. During that campaign, Akin said in an interview that "First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare." He added that "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

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