Rep. Steve King claims abortion comments were taken out of context

Rep. Steve King's (R-Iowa) campaign has pushed back against a report that he'd denied knowing of any children who'd become pregnant from statutory rape or incest, arguing that he'd been taken out of context and that he meant only that he didn't personally know of any examples of that happening.

King told an Iowa reporter on Monday that he'd never heard of a child becoming pregnant from statutory rape or incest.

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"Well, I just haven't heard of that being a circumstance that's been brought to me in any personal way, and I’d be open to discussion about that subject matter," he said when asked about whether he believed a pregnant 12-year-old should be barred from getting an abortion.

After Talking Points Memo reported the statements, King's campaign fired back, telling the website that "of course" he was aware that girls have become pregnant from statutory rape and incest and supported people who had not been forcibly raped having access to federal abortion coverage under a rape exemption.

"What he was saying was he personally does not know a girl who was raped," King spokeswoman Brittany Lesser said. "He never says, 'I've never heard of that.' There’s a fine line between 'I've never heard of that' and 'I don't know personally anybody who's been raped.' There's a difference. There is a difference."

King later put out a statement attacking the media.

"I believe sexual assault is a disgusting, violent crime and those who commit these terrible acts should be severely punished to the fullest extent of the law. The liberal press and their allies have again twisted my words. I never said, nor do I believe, a woman, including minors, cannot get pregnant from rape, statutory rape or incest. Suggesting otherwise is ridiculous, shameful, disgusting and nothing but an attempt to falsely define who I am," he said in a statement. "I have never heard of and categorically reject the so-called medical theory that launched this controversy. The people who promote these vicious attacks are paid to create lies and to assassinate the character of elected officials."

The full context of King's remarks, as provided to TPM by the local broadcaster:

REPORTER: You support the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act that would provide federal funding for abortions to a person that has been forcefully raped. But what if someone isn't forcibly raped and, for example, a 12-year-old who gets pregnant? Should she have to bring this baby to term?

KING: Well, I just haven't heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way and I'd be open to hearing discussion about that subject matter. Generally speaking it’s this: that there [are] millions of abortions in this country every year. Millions of them are paid for at least in part by taxpayers. I think it’s immoral for us to compel conscientious objecting taxpayers to fund abortion through the federal government, or any other government for that matter. So that’s my stand. And if there are exceptions there, then bring me those exceptions, let’s talk about it. In the meantime it’s wrong for us to compel pro-life people to pay taxes to fund abortion.

This post was updated at 7:40 p.m.