Lawmaker tries to walk back ‘consensual rapes’ comment


A Republican Missouri legislator said the majority of sexual assaults are either “date rapes or consensual rapes” during a debate in the State House over a bill that would ban abortions at eight weeks. The GOP-controlled House passed the bill shortly after.

Rep. Barry Hovis, a 30-year veteran of the Cape Girardeau Police Department who was elected to state office in 2018, was discussing his experience handling rape cases. Rep. Raychel Proudie, a Democrat, quickly rebuked him. “There is no such thing, no such thing as consensual rape,” she said to applause from the chamber.

Hovis later told a reporter from the Kansas City Star that he misspoke, and echoed that “there is no such thing as consensual rape.” His office did not immediately respond to a call and email from The Washington Post.

The lawmaker, who represents the city of Jackson in southeast Missouri, made the comments on the House floor in arguing that the eight-week window the bill allows for abortions “gives [rape survivors] ample time” for an abortion. Critics point out that many women do not know they are pregnant until after eight weeks.

“I’ve been a person that’s taken reports of rape,” Hovis said during his remarks. “I’ve taken reports of incest. I have been involved in those investigations and there’s many different levels when we talk about those things. All of them are terrible. . . . Let’s just say someone goes out and they’re raped or they’re sexually assaulted one night after a college party — because most of my rapes were not the gentleman 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.”

His remarks recalled a controversial comment made in 2012 by Todd Akin, a Missouri congressman, that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy. After losing a 2012 race for U.S. Senate, Akin tried to clarify his words, saying he should have said “legitimate case of rape.”

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