GOP Rep. Steve King Suggests Without Rape or Incest, There Would be No 'Population of the World Left'

In defending anti-abortion legislation that would bar exceptions for rape and incest, Representative Steve King suggested Wednesday that civilization on Earth may not exist if not for rape and incest.

"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?" the Iowa Republican said at an event with a group of conservatives in Des Moines, 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."

Legislation introduced by King in January, known as the Heartbeat Protection Act of 2019, would have made it illegal for doctors to perform abortions once a fetus had a detectable heartbeat. A doctor who performed the procedure would face fines and/or jail time. The only exception would be if the mother's life is in danger—not for cases of rape or incest.

Similar versions of the controversial proposal, known as a "heartbeat" bill, have advanced through several Republican-controlled state legislatures this year. Believed to be the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, Alabama's and Louisiana's "heartbeat" laws also do not allow exceptions for rape or incest.

King defended his anti-abortion legislation, saying, "It's not the baby's fault for the sin of the father, or of the mother. I've got 174 people who say they don't want exceptions for rape and incest because they understand it is not the baby's fault, to abort the baby, because of the sin of the father, and maybe sometimes the sin of the mother, too."

Steve King no civilization without rape incest
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speaks during a town hall meeting at the Ericson Public Library on August 13 in Boone, Iowa. Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty

J.D. Scholten, the Democrat running against King in the 4th Congressional District, in a statement labeled King's remarks as "disrespectful to survivors and don't reflect Iowan values." Last year, Scholten lost to the GOP incumbent by just three percentage points in the reliably conservative district.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which backs Scholten and other liberal Democrats, told Newsweek they planned to send out a fundraising email in response to King.

In addition to being known for his far-right views on abortion, King, 70, has made a slew of comments about white supremacy and immigration. In a New York Times interview in January, he questioned why terms like "white nationalist," "white supremacist" and "Western civilization" had "become offensive."

As a result, King was removed from several congressional committees by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican. The Democratic-led House also formally condemned King and his remarks in the form of a resolution of disapproval. It passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 424-1, with King voting in favor of it and Democratic Representative Bobby Rush of Illinois voting against because he believed the measure did not go far enough.

King claimed Wednesday that coverage of his comments in the Times was part of a larger conspiracy theory to remove him from office, something he claimed to learn from unnamed sources, according to the Register. On January 10, the day before the Times story was published, Republican state Senator Randy Feenstra declared his intention to unseat King in the 2020 primary.

"People think it was an organic media feeding frenzy, but no, it was orchestrated from the beginning," King said. "They had told me, 'heads up before Christmas, they're going to try to drive you out of office and get you to resign.' Within 24 hours, you had people saying 'resign, resign, resign.' Why? Because the New York Times misquoted me?"

But King has a years-long history of making racist and anti-immigrant remarks.

More recently, during an MSNBC panel discussion at the 2016 Republican National Convention, he claimed non-whites have contributed less to society than whites. "Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization... than Western civilization itself," he said.

And last year, King retweeted a Nazi sympathizer who said Europe was "waking up" to opposing mass immigration.

This story was updated to include information about Democrat J.D. Scholten.

Correction, 8/19/19: Based on reporting from the Des Moines Register, an earlier version of this story misquoted King as saying, "It's not the baby's fault for the sin of the father, or of the mother." King actually said, "I've got 174 people who say they don't want exceptions for rape and incest because they understand it is not the baby's fault, to abort the baby, because of the sin of the father, and maybe sometimes the sin of the mother, too."

GOP Rep. Steve King Suggests Without Rape or Incest, There Would be No 'Population of the World Left' | Politics