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With the Supreme Court’s decision to dismantle the right to an abortion, Republicans now have to answer an uncomfortable question: What do they think should happen when minors become pregnant and abortion is no longer an option?
The issue came to the fore in Ohio, when a pregnant 10-year-old girl reportedly had to be taken out of state to terminate her pregnancy as a result of being raped. Abortion rights advocates say the case is just a preview of what is to come as more states move to restrict the practice.
That, in turn, has led to Republicans facing questions on what they propose doing in similar situations, and brought renewed focus on a reported years-old statement by Oklahoma’s Sen. James Lankford (R) that he thought 13-year-old girls were capable of giving consent to sex.
On Sunday, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, considered a rising star in the Republican Party, defended her state’s new almost-total abortion ban, which has no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
Pressed by CNN on whether the Ohio girl should be forced to bear a child, Noem said, “Every single life is precious.”
“I don’t believe a tragic situation should be perpetuated by another tragedy,” she said.
In Mississippi, the speaker of the state House, Rep. Philip Gunn (R) said within hours of the Supreme Court decision that abortion should remain illegal, even in the hypothetical case of a 12-year-old victim of incest.
Gunn said the Mississippi law does not include an exception for incest and he did not think the state legislature should revisit that issue.
“I believe life begins at conception. Every life is valuable. And those are my personal beliefs,” he told reporters.
Every single life is precious.South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R), when asked if a 10-year-old should be forced to bear a child.
Some Republican lawmakers are shying away from focusing on abortion, recognizing that it’s a political issue that could backfire for them in the midterm elections. But Sen. James Lankford (Okla.) has been more vocal, even raising the possibility of banning abortion nationwide at six weeks into a pregnancy.
That stance has shed new light on comments he reportedly made in 2010 ― four years before becoming a senator ― when asked during a civil trial deposition if he believed a 13-year-old could consent to sex. “Yes, I think they can,” he replied, according to a transcript obtained by The Associated Press.
When asked if he also thought that “in terms of your position as a father,” Lankford repeated, “Yes, they can.”
“Could she make that choice? I hope she would not, but I would not encourage that in any way with my own daughter,” he said, according to the AP.
The case involved a 15-year-old boy sued by the family of a 13-year-old girl after they had sex at Falls Creek, the massive summer church camp whose attendance is a rite of passage for many Southern Baptist children in heavily evangelical Oklahoma.
The lawsuit was filed in 2009, while Lankford was director of youth programming at the camp, but Lankford was not accused of having knowledge of the incident or accused of wrongdoing. The suit was later settled, per the AP.
A spokeswoman for Lankford declined to comment to the AP. HuffPost also sought comment on both the AP story and a follow-up question on how that reported stance would apply to Lankford’s opposition to abortion. A spokeswoman declined to comment on the record.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) has called for a six-week abortion ban in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. (Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images)
In an op-ed for FoxNews.com before the Supreme Court’s decision, Lankford hailed the idea of abortion completely coming to an end, not just being restricted on a state-by-state basis.
“It would be one of the greatest days for the human race if we could end all abortion everywhere and declare in one voice that every life matters,” he wrote.
As long as Republicans want to stop abortion nationwide and make few or no exceptions with regard to rape, incest or age, the likely outcome will be more teenage girls ― or younger ― giving birth. And that’s already an issue in the states Noem, Gunn and Lankford are from.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mississippi had the highest rate of births to females between the ages of 15 and 19 in 2020, at 27.9 per 1,000 births. Oklahoma was fourth on the list, at 25 teen births per 1,000. And South Dakota came in at 13th on the list, at 18.7.
More on the Supreme Court abortion ruling:
Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, dismantling decades-old precedent
Roe overturned: The fight begins
Abortion is now illegal in these states
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “We have to fill the streets”
Clarence Thomas: Cases protecting gay marriage and contraception should be next
Republicans make it clear they want to ban abortion nationwide
Here’s how the world is reacting to the end of Roe
Pro-abortion rights protesters attacked and threatened
Donations, chants and calls for change: Celebrities react to end of Roe
SCOTUS decision threatens right to interracial marriage, experts warn
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.