A Missouri Republican who referenced “consensual rapes” during a debate over his state’s proposed eight-week abortion ban has now walked back the remark, reportedly claiming he misspoke.
While discussing the bill on the statehouse floor Friday, Rep. Barry Hovis, who serves the city of Jackson, cast doubt upon certain rape cases.
Reflecting on his time as an officer in the Cape Girardeau Police Department, Hovis said “most of my rapes were not the gentlemen jumping out of the bushes that nobody had ever met. That was one or two times out of a hundred.”
“Most of them were date rapes or consensual rapes, which were all terrible, but I sat in court — sat in court — when juries would struggle with those types of situations where it was a ‘he said, she said,’ and they would find the person not guilty. Unfortunate, if it really happened, but I had no control over that.”
According to The Associated Press, the comments sparked backlash from Democratic Rep. Raychel Proudie, who said “there is no such thing as consensual rape.”
In discussing kinds of rapes he has encountered as a law enforcement official, state Rep. Barry Hovis spoke of the vast majority of rape being date rape and "consensual rape." A lot of "whats" rang around the chamber. #moleg
— Crystal Thomas (@bycrystalthomas) May 17, 2019
Later that day, Hovis told the AP that he intended to say “date rapes or consensual or rape.”
“It’s my apology if I didn’t [enunciate] the word ‘or,’” he added.
The lawmaker also attempted to explain his choice of words to Kansas City’s KCTV5, stating, “It was a misspoken comment. I do want to make sure that I correct that.”
However, the outlet’s reporter, Angie Ricono, pointed out that he did not correct himself during his initial speech and instead kept going.
The bill passed the House yesterday and is expected to be signed by Gov. Mike Parson. Like Alabama’s near-total abortion ban, which was signed into law this week, it does not make exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The only way a doctor would be allowed to perform an abortion legally after the eight-week mark would be if the mother’s life were in danger.
Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have also outlawed abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which may occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy. This wave of new state laws is taking aim at the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which established the right to abortion nationwide.
The new laws might face legal challenges that could delay them from taking effect or prevent them from being implemented altogether.