The Slatest

Rep. Steve King: Without Rape and Incest, “Would There Be Any Population of the World Left?”

Steve King speaks at a town hall event.
U.S. Rep. Steve King at a town hall on Tuesday in Boone, Iowa.
Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Iowa Rep. Steve King, defending his position of not allowing exceptions for rape or incest in abortion bans, appeared to make the argument Wednesday that there was a practical reason for not allowing victims of rape or incest to have abortions.

According to the Des Moines Register, which reported on his speech to a group of conservatives in Urbandale, Iowa, King said:

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? … 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.

This appears to be a fairly new—or at least not mainstream—argument against the exemptions, though King did turn to a more common defense of forcing women to give birth after incest or rape: “It’s not the baby’s fault for the sin of the father, or of the mother.”

King is running for reelection in hopes of a 10th term in Congress, despite being so open in his support for white nationalist ideals that his Republican colleagues collectively turned on him and stripped him of his House committee assignments.

King has said many, many offensive things, but it is during his philosophizing on matters of populations and civilizations that he flirts most directly with white supremacy. Notably, he tweeted last year that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” He called white people (or, in a more generous interpretation, Western civilization) the “subgroup of people” who have contributed the most to the world.

He predicted in an interview last year that “if we don’t defend Western civilization, then we will become subjugated by the people who are the enemies of faith, the enemies of justice”—the “Great Replacement” theory pushed by white supremacists that warns that mass migration is destroying white civilization. And, in a line that more closely resembled his statement on Wednesday, he blamed abortion for killing “ ‘millions’ of white babies.”

King has stood by all of his remarks, portraying the outrage either as misplaced or responding to inaccurate and biased reports. When he announced his bid for reelection, King pointedly refused to apologize. At a town hall, he told the assembled crowd that after his colleagues in the House censured and removed him from his committee seats, he “look[ed] up at those 400-and-some accusers … and I have a better insight into what [Jesus] went through for us.”