DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Rep. Steve King said Friday he stands by his recent comments about rape and incest that sparked bipartisan criticism but acknowledged he could have made his point in a “softer way.”
Backed by supporters at a news conference in Des Moines, the Iowa Republican affirmed his belief that abortion should be outlawed with no exceptions for rape or incest. King faced criticism for his comment Aug. 14 that questioned whether there would be “any population of the world left” if not for births due to rape or incest.
The remarks were condemned by numerous groups and individuals, including Republican and Democratic candidates seeking to oust King, Democratic presidential candidates as well as the Iowa Republican Party and Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in House leadership. Cheney called King’s comments “appalling and bizarre.”
House Republicans previously stripped King of his committee assignments for his comments about white nationalism.
Although King repeated his claim that his comments were being misconstrued by political opponents and the media, he said he would “rather deliver that in a little softer way.”
In an attempt to do that, King recalled the 1946 movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and recounted how the film explored the way one person’s life touches many others through time and what would happen if one individual had never been born.
Comparing the movie to his comments about abortion, King said, “It was an objectively honest and accurate statement but I think it was willfully misinterpreted.”
King was supported by several people representing groups opposed to abortion rights, including Rebecca Kiessling, a lawyer who leads a group called Conceived in Rape.
Kiessling, who said she was conceived when her mother was raped at knifepoint, said she appreciated King’s effort to write legislation seeking to outlaw abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest.
“Congressman King has been the most pro-life congressman, legislator in D.C.,” she said.
J.D. Scholten, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 4th District, has chided King for not focusing on issues most vital in the sprawling, largely rural districts, such as low commodity prices and a poor rural economy.
After King’s news conference, he tweeted, “What Steve King consistently leaves out are the victims of rape and incest, and the physical and emotional trauma that are a part of that. When he pushes his unconstitutional and freedom restricting ideology, he devalues the trauma experienced by these survivors.”