John Koster, a Republican congressional candidate in Washington state, said Sunday that "the rape thing" is not a good enough reason for a woman to have an abortion, the Associated Press reported.
Asked at a campaign fundraiser whether he supports abortion rights in some situations, Koster replied that he only supports abortion in cases where a woman's life is in danger.
"Incest is so rare, I mean, it's so rare," he said. "But the rape thing-- you know, I know a woman who was raped and kept the child, gave it up for adoption, and she doesn't regret it."
He added, "On the rape thing, it's like, how does putting more violence onto a woman's body and taking the life of an innocent child that's a consequence of this crime -- how does that make it better? You know what I mean?"
Listen to the audio of Koster's comments:
His Democratic opponent, Suzan DelBene, supports abortion rights. Her campaign criticized Koster for trivializing rape.
"Dismissing it as a 'thing' is an awfully casual way for him to talk about it, and I think it highlights how little he understands the ramifications and the seriousness of the issue. So that's very problematic," DelBene spokesperson Viet Shelton told TPM. "And the way he approaches the issue and the policy conclusions he comes to, it just highlights the serious problem we have when politicians are trying to dictate women's health care decisions."
In response to the controversy over his comments, Koster campaign manager Larry Stickney told the AP that Koster clearly takes rape seriously because he has strongly advocated cracking down on sex offenders.
Republican lawmakers and congressional candidates have made headlines several times over the past few months for their comments about rape and abortion. Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said that pregnancy from rape is "something God intended," Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) said victims of "legitimate rape" almost never become pregnant, and Rep. Tom Smith (R-Pa.) compared pregnancy as a result of rape to "having a baby out of wedlock."