Politics

Steve King says without rape and incest, there wouldn’t “be any population of the world left”

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who openly panders to white supremacists, is now defending rape and incest as a means of conception. Without pregnancies from rape or incest, there wouldn’t “be any population of the world left,” he said.

“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 told conservative voters in Iowa, the Des Moines Register reported. “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 was defending his anti-abortion legislation, which does not have exceptions for rape and incest, arguing that a fetus should be brought to term, no matter how it was conceived. The Heartbeat Protection Act, which he authored in 2017, would ban abortions at the first detection of a heartbeat, which for many women is before they even know they are pregnant. The bill, which has not moved in the House, has been used as a framework in conservative states nationwide.

“It’s not the baby’s fault for the sin of the father, or of the mother,” King said, defending the bill.

Four states — Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Ohio — have passed “heartbeat” bills, and states like North Dakota and Iowa have also passed similar measures. As Anna North reported for Vox, none of these bills have actually gone into effect, and have been — or will be — challenged in court. In January, a state judge struck down Iowa’s fetal heartbeat law.

King has represented Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District for more than 15 years, and is the only Republican House lawmaker left in the state. He’s known for retweeting neo-Nazis and making explicitly racist and xenophobic comments. As Vox’s Ella Nilsen reported, the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer actually embraced King as one of their own in 2017, saying he was “basically a white nationalist at this point.”

After the New York Times published an interview with King, in which he questioned why the language “white nationalism” and “white supremacy” was so “offensive,” House Republican leadership finally stripped him of all committee assignments in January. However, he is still running for reelection — but not without challengers.

King has a Republican primary challenger, Randy Feenstra, the assistant majority leader of the Iowa state Senate, who is out-fundraising him so far. OpenSecrets shows Feenstra has $337,314 cash on hand, compared to a dismal $18,366 in King’s war chest as of the end of June.

And Democratic opponent J.D. Scholten, a former baseball player and paralegal who came within 2,500 votes of beating King in 2018, is running again. He’s a huge crowd favorite among Democrats in the district and the state — and often the subject of the biggest applause line for Democratic presidential candidates campaigning in the state. King’s comment has already prompted Democratic presidential candidates to call on King’s resignation.

But in a traditionally conservative district Scholten’s path to victory means he will have to win not only Democrats but also moderate Republicans and independents.


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