Update: 'Rape thing' not cause for abortion, says Wash. GOP hopeful

Nov 1, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Washington state congressional candidate says abortion should not be legal, even when it involves "the rape thing."

John Koster's campaign published a press release last night explaining that Koster's quote about rape and abortion was a tactic used by DelBene's campaign relying on "dirty tricks and deception to sway close elections."

"The recording was done secretly then edited to suit DelBene's agenda," said Larry Stickney, Koster's campaign manager. "Consider that John was at a dinner with many people trying to get his attention. He very clearly and honestly stated his thoughts on an extremely sensitive subject. He has nothing to be ashamed of here." 

Running against Koster, Democrat Suzan DelBene, expressed her pro-choice position as her campaign called Koster's "rape thing" formulation offensive.

"Dismissing it as a 'thing' is an awfully casual way for him to talk about it, and I think it highlights how little he understands the ramifications and the seriousness of the issue. So that's very problematic," DelBen spokesperson Viet Shelton told TPM. "And the way he approaches the issue and the policy conclusions he comes to, it just highlights the serious problem we have when politicians are trying to dictate women's health care decisions."

A liberal advocacy group provided audio to The Associated Press on Wednesday in which Republican hopeful John Koster says he does not oppose abortion when the life of the mother is in danger. Speaking at a fund raiser Sunday, Koster adds that he would oppose abortion in cases of rape or incest.

Koster twice uses the phrase "the rape thing" in the recording, saying it doesn't make the situation better by "putting more violence into a woman's body."

Here’s the full quote as published at Seattlepi.com:

“When a mother’s life is in danger,” Koster replied. “I’m not going to make that decision.  Well, you know they’re . . . Incest is so rare, I mean, it’s so rare.  But the rape thing, you know, I know a mother who was raped and kept her child, gave it up for adoption.  She doesn’t regret it.  In fact, she is a big pro-life proponent.”

The Seattle Times explains further:

"… Fuse Washington, a liberal organization based in Seattle, secretly audio-taped Koster speaking frankly about abortion over the weekend at an Everett fundraiser. They say his comments are “disturbing.”

"On the tape, an activist with Fuse asks Koster whether there is any situation in which he would “agree” with abortion. He responds that he would make an exception for the life of the mother, but not for rape or incest, and describes his thinking in detail, using the phrase, “the rape thing” twice."

Koster spokesman Larry Stickney says Koster is not cavalier about the issue and supports tough punishments for sex offenders.

The Republican hopeful is locked in a competitive congressional race against Democrat Suzan DelBene.