JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A bill filed this month would require pregnant women to get permission from the father before having an abortion except in cases of incest and what the Missouri Republican who sponsored the legislation called "legitimate rape."
If passed, state Rep. Rick Brattin's bill would require women to obtain notarized written permission from the father to terminate a pregnancy. The mandate would be waived for rape and incest. An identical bill by the Harrisonville lawmaker died in committee last session.
"Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it," Brattin told Mother Jones in a statement that drew criticism from state Democrats. "So you couldn't just go and say, 'Oh yeah, I was raped,' and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape."
Brattin's comments led to comparisons to former Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, who said in 2012 that women's bodies have ways of not becoming pregnant from what he called "legitimate rape."
Brattin told The Associated Press that his statement to Mother Jones referred to what is defined in state law as rape.
"What I was trying to explain is whatever is considered by statute to be a rape should apply in this," he said. "I'm not going Akin here and trying to redefine what it is and all that kind of garbage."
The bill is one of several introduced year after year that deal with abortion, and many never garner enough support to become law.
Still, the Republican-led General Assembly in September overrode a veto by the governor to enact a 72-hour waiting periods for an abortion, which is one of the nation's longest and has no exceptions for rape and incest.
Sean Nicholson, the executive director of the progressive advocacy group Progress Missouri, said the bill likely is aimed at drumming up support and fundraising.
Nicholson said a woman might be unable to contact the man who impregnated her, and Democratic state Rep. Stacey Newman of St. Louis said Brattin's bill would put women in abusive relationships at risk.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who defeated Akin for the Senate seat, said the time necessary for criminal prosecution of rape would prevent many women from getting abortions.
"This is just a back-door way to eliminate any rape exception, unless the survivor gets a permission slip from her rapist," McCaskill said in a written statement. She called the bill "offensive and absurd."
Brattin said the bill aims to prevent women from using abortions as a form of contraception, and said he was motivated in part by male friends whose partners had abortions without notifying them first.
"If you have a father that wants to be a part of that child's life," Brattin said, "he should have that right."