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Iowa’s Steve King asks whether there would be ‘any population of the world left’ if not for rape, incest

Representative Steve King.
Representative Steve King. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

Defending his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest, US Representative Steve King of Iowa asked whether “there [would] be any population of the world left” if people born of those crimes weren’t counted, according to the Des Moines Register.

“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 reportedly said at a conservative event in the state Wednesday. “Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that happened throughout all these different nations, I know that I can’t say that I was not a part of a product of that.”

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King’s tweet prompted a swift response from Democrats. His likely 2020 opponent, J.D. Scholten, said his comments were emblematic of a “selfish, hateful ideology.”

“Excusing violence — in any way — is entirely unacceptable. Here in Iowa, we stand strong together in the face of violence, and strive to create a welcoming and safe community for all people. His comments are disrespectful to survivors and don’t reflect Iowan values,” Scholten said in a statement.

King has frequently been called upon to resign after making racist or otherwise controversial comments. He was stripped of his committee assignments at the beginning of this year after he expressed regret that white supremacy and white nationalism have become offensive terms.

In 2007, he sued Iowa state officials for posting voter materials on the state website in Spanish, Bosnian, Vietnamese, and Laotian.

He spoke out against contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act in 2011, claiming “preventing babies being born is not medicine.”

In 2017, he tweeted that “diversity is not our strength” and quoted Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, a far-right authoritarian, as saying, “Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.”

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King’s latest comments come as states around the country are passing strict laws that ban abortion as early as six weeks or — in the case of Alabama — outlaw it altogether. Alabama’s law, signed by the state’s governor in May, does not provide exceptions for rape or incest. Many antiabortion advocates hope the newly conservative Supreme Court will strike down Roe v. Wade, the decision that guarantees a woman’s right to abortion.

In a tweet sent Wednesday night, US Representative Ayanna Pressley called on King to resign following his statement at the event in Iowa.

“Resign.,” the congresswoman from Massachusetts’ Seveth District tweeted.


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.