Congressman Steve King is once again stirring controversy with comments defending prohibition on abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.
Several Democratic and Republican legislators have called on US Representative Steve King to resign after the Iowa lawmaker made an offensive comment about rape and incest.
King made the comments on Wednesday while defending anti-abortion legislation during an address to the Westside Conservative Club in Iowa. The Republican lawmaker was backing legislation that did not provide exemptions for abortions in the case of rape or incest.
“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled out anyone who was a product of rape or incest?” King asked the audience. “Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?
“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.”
He added: “It’s not the baby's fault for the sin of the father, or of the mother.”
King has been elected to Congress nine times, despite his long history of making offensive comments and pushing legislation many deem bigoted.
“It’s not shocking at all because Steve King basically says something outrageously offensive or racist every month,” Christopher Mathias, a HuffPost journalist who has covered King for years, told TRT World.
“He has been one of the furthest right on abortion since he’s been in Congress,” Mathias added, explaining that King often discusses the issue in a way that overlaps with white nationalist politics, “within the context of demographic change and the Great Replacement”.
‘You are a disgrace’
After his comments on Wednesday, many Democrats and some Republicans called on King to resign from the House of Representatives, where he represents Iowa’s 4th congressional district.
Republican Liz Cheney, a US representative from Wyoming, decried King’s comments as “appalling and bizarre”.
“As I’ve said before, it’s time for him to go,” Cheney wrote on Twitter. “The people of Iowa’s 4th congressional district deserve better.”
“I am 100% pro-life but Congressman King’s bizarre comments and behavior diminish our message and damage our cause,” Iowa state senator Randy Feenstra said on Wednesday, deeming King an ongoing “distraction”.
Feenstra plans to challenge King for his seat in primary elections next year.
Democratic presidential hopefuls—among them Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar—all blasted King’s comments and demanded his resignation.
Sanders, a progressive Senator from Vermont, wrote on Twitter: “Steve King is a racist, a misogynist and a disgrace to the country. He should not be a member of the United States Congress.”
Gillibrand, a Democratic US Senator from New York, who is running for the 2020 presidential nomination, called King a “disgrace”.
“You are a disgrace,” she wrote in a tweet. “Resign.”
‘White nationalism’ controversy
King’s controversial comments fit into a long history of provoking condemnation.
Earlier this year, King faced widespread condemnation from both Republicans and Democrats after a New York Times profile in which he defended white supremacy and white nationalism.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilisation—how did that language become offensive?” King said in the New York Times interview.
“Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilisation?” he added.
After that interview, King was stripped of his committee seats in the US House of Representatives.
For years, the Republican lawmaker has targeted Muslims, immigrants and others with fiery rhetoric, and he was an early supporter of US President Donald Trump’s successful bid for the presidency.
In June 2018, King told the far-right Breitbart News that Somali Muslims should not work at meatpacking facilities in his district.
“I don’t want people doing my pork that won’t eat it, let alone hope I go to hell for eating pork chops,” he said in the interview.
In October 2018, King endorsed Faith Goldy—a Canadian white nationalist—for mayor of Toronto.
Although Goldy lost that election by a wide margin, King described her as “Pro Western Civilization and a fighter for our values [sic]”.
King has also proclaimed support for Hungary’s anti-refugee Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and the Dutch anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders, among other European far-right figures.
During a trip to Austria, King met with members of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), a far-right party with neo-Nazi roots.
“When you are importing people, even importing one single person, you are importing their culture,” King said of immigration in an interview with an FPO-linked publication.
Despite King regularly garnering criticism from his own party, Trump has not joined the chorus of condemnation.
Contacted by TRT World, the White House press office did not respond to a request for comment.
“To my knowledge, he’s never condemned King,” HuffPost’s Mathias said. “There's not a ton of daylight between Steve King’s views and the White House’s.”