Democrats are calling for a Republican congressman to resign after he defended abortion bans by saying that humankind might not exist but for rape or incest.
Without rape or incest “would there be any population of the world left?” nine-term lawmaker Steve King asked the Des Moines Register newspaper.
Mr King was defending anti-abortion legislation that does not make exceptions for rape or incest.
Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders soon demanded he step down.
“You are a disgrace. Resign,” Ms Gillibrand wrote on Twitter. Her remarks were quickly echoed by other 2020 Democratic hopefuls Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro.
A Republican lawmaker, Iowa state Senator Randy Feenstra, also criticised Mr King’s remarks.
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“I am 100% pro-life but Steve King’s bizarre comments and behaviour diminish our message,” he wrote on Twitter.
On Wednesday, Mr King told the Des Moines Register that the Republican leadership had stopped bills he sponsored banning abortions from advancing through the US House of Representatives.
“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?” Mr King said on Wednesday.
“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.”