A Republican member of the Missouri state Legislature apologized Friday for making comments about "consensual rape" that many found insensitive.
Rep. Barry Hovis, who represents Cape Girardeau County in southeastern Missouri, had been discussing his experiences as a 30-year veteran of the police force during a debate over a restrictive abortion bill that would ban abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy.
Hovis is seen making the comments about sexual assault in a video posted by KSDK-TV reporter Jacob Long.
“Let’s just say someone goes out and they’re raped or they’re sexually assaulted one night after a college party — because most of my rapes were not the gentleman jumping out of the bushes that nobody had ever met,” Hovis explained. “That was one or two times out of a hundred. Most of them were date rapes or consensual rapes, which were all terrible.”
According to the Associated Press, Hovis was met with hisses from abortion rights supporters in the audience after giving that speech.
Hovis later apologized for his remarks when he was asked about them by the Associated Press, saying that he meant to say "date rapes or consensual or rape," rather than "consensual rapes."
"It's my apology if I didn't annunciate the word 'or,'" Hovis said.
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Twitter users noted the similarities between Hovis' comments and those made by former U.S. Rep.Todd Akin during the 2012 Senate race in Missouri. In 2012, Akin had referred to "legitimate rape" during an interview with a local television station, saying that women had the ability to prevent a pregnancy when they were raped.
Thank you Rep Barry Hovis for being the 2019 version of Todd Akin.— Greg Boege (@SombraAla) May 17, 2019
I'm now rather concerned about any women who you were responsible for serving and protecting in your considerable amount of time on the force. #moleg https://t.co/gmn0qqoorD
Later that day, the Republican-controlled legislature voted 110-44 to pass its abortion restriction bill, one of the harshest in the country. The bill threatens women and doctors with jail time for violating its terms. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, has said that he will sign the bill into law.
This bill's passage comes amid a national debate over abortion bills. In the past two weeks, Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri have all signed bills placing significant limits on abortion, in what advocates both for and against the bills say is an attempt to overturn Roe. v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that established a woman's right to an abortion.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Missouri GOP lawmaker apologizes for comments on 'consensual rape' amid abortion bill debate