rape

Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) had just one attendee at a town hall event in Iowa following his latest inflammatory remarks about rape and incest.

Rep. King ignited a flurry of backlash last week when he defended a proposed ban on abortions by saying that rape and incest produce “babies that are born as a product of those activities,” which he said “are as precious as you are or any of my grandchildren are.”

“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 said during a town hall event earlier this month.

The Iowa Congressman’s proposed abortion ban would go into effect when a fetal heartbeat is detected (typically after just six weeks of pregnancy, or two weeks of a period being late), and does not support exemptions for abortions in the event of conception from rape and/or incest. Since his comments went viral and attracted scorn from Republican leaders, and even from President Trump, King’s town hall events have been sparsely attended.

Most recently, a town hall King held in Grundy Center, Iowa only brought out one attendee — college student Jessica Birch, who attends the University of Northern Iowa. A viral Reuters photo of the town hall showed two people, but one of those was an intern working for Rep. King’s office. Birch, for her part, told Iowa Starting Line that she was hung over and almost didn’t go.

“It was very awkward, it was a very weird thing,” Birch said. “Part of me wanted to leave, but it would be rude to leave, and the Midwestern part of me couldn’t do that. I feel bad for him a bit. But then part of me was really, really angry because other Democrats didn’t show up. I kind of let stuff he said slide, on stuff like abortion and health care, because I don’t want to get in an argument with him. I already know you’re wrong. Let’s talk about things I actually care about.”

“The whole hour for me was just a blur of what I was saying. I was hungover, I didn’t have any coffee, I was just there,” she added. “If I could go back, I would have been more ready to ask questions.”

Aside from his more recent remarks about rape and incest, King has come under fire for making multiple incendiary statements attacking immigrants and minorities. After visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp memorial in Poland last year, King spoke with a white supremacist magazine about how whites are being replaced by immigrants.

“The US subtracts from its population a million of our babies in the form of abortion. We add to our population approximately 1.8 million of ‘somebody else’s babies’ who are raised in another culture before they get to us. We are replacing our American culture 2 to 1 every year,” said King, who has also questioned why the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” should be seen as negative. “If we continue to abort our babies and import a replacement for them in the form of young violent men, we are supplanting our culture, our civilization.”

When she was on her way out, a King staffer asked Birch if she wanted to take a photo with the Congressman. She politely declined, saying that she eventually wanted to run for office and viewed a photo with King as a liability.

“I don’t need a picture of Steve King and I shaking hands in the future,” Birch told Iowa Starting Line.

(Featured image: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

 

Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.

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