Trent Franks (Associated Press)
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) (Associated Press)

The lead story in the New York Times today is about the Republican Party’s obsession with limiting (or outright eliminating) a woman’s right to choose. While the piece highlights efforts across the country to restrict abortion, it focuses on the bill sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.). He’s the one who said, “[T]he incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,” as he argued against a Democratic provision to include an exception for rape or incest to his bill to prohibit abortions after 22 weeks.

The odd yet routine spectacle of an all male congressional panel discussing what women can or can’t do with their bodies or to maintain their health was wonderfully summed up Dana Milbank: “Men men men men, manly men men men!” In response to the hearing where Franks delivered his dunderheaded comment, a female lawmaker who was watching the hearing in her office sent me a powerful e-mail last week that ought to sink into some of the thick skulls on Capitol Hill — but probably won’t.

“I turned off my TV. I could not listen to the debate because I have to work with these guys and on some issues we agree and work together well. But if I heard their embarrassingly ignorant statements it would be hard to have any level of respect for them.

“Their statements do not even reflect a high-school level understanding of biology. Maybe biology should be a requirement to run for Congress. They do not seem to have any level of awareness that they are a group of men who … protest loudly about government intrusion in the lives of people. But clearly [they want] some women — and let’s be clear this is ONLY about poor women — [to] have government not only decide what they can and cannot do with their bodies, but they also believe in intruding and dictating what a doctor can and cannot do in an exam room—can and cannot SAY in an exam room.

“Whether they want to accept it or not, the women in their lives have choices. They have health coverage. They can pay for an abortion or birth control. Their rants only deny resources to poor women. I wonder if it ever occurs to them the pain they cause when women for whatever reason who have HAD abortions or have BEEN raped have to listen to their incredibly ignorant comments. And, finally, I wonder if it ever occurs to them that maybe their female colleagues in Congress have had abortions and been victims of rape? Their obsession with this issue just punishes women over and over again who have had to make difficult choices or experienced the violence of rape.”

Everything she said makes sense to me. That it doesn’t to so many (men) in Congress is what’s so troubling.

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Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.