Rep. Butt apologizes for ‘mistake’ in saying rape and incest ‘not verifiable’

State Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, has apologized for remarks she made about rape and incest during the House debate about an abortion amendment, reports the Columbia Daily Herald.

Butt said she voted for abortion bills during the legislative session because they were common-sense restrictions for the health and safety of girls and women in Tennessee. The bills passed the House and Senate and await Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature.

The Maury County legislator raised eyebrows, though, with comments she made during debate over whether to exempt victims of rape and incest from the 48-hour waiting period. Butt said, “This amendment appears political because we understand that in most instances this is not verifiable.”

(Note: This touched off a round of criticism, initially from Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, on the House floor. Previous post HERE. And state Democratic Chairman Mary Mancini said Butt was The amendment failed but not before Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, translated Butt’s comment as: “In other words, women are liars.”

Butt told The Daily Herald she was arguing the amendment did not include language requiring victims to provide evidence or substantiation of rape or incest. She apologized for erroneously suggesting that rape and incest could not be verified

“On Monday, when I realized the legislation was being presented, I had a quickly written statement in response to an amendment that a colleague was trying to put on the bill,” Butt said. “The amendment would have waived the restrictions in cases of rape and incest. It was not a viable amendment because it did not include any evidence or substantiation of rape or incest.

“I was speaking only to the amendment,” she added. “Instead of reading what I had written on the notes, I used the word “verifiable” instead of “verified.” I intended to say that in most cases rape or incest is not verified at an abortion clinic. Of course, we know that rape and incest can be verifiable, and I am grateful for that. I misspoke in my comments on the House floor, and I am sorry for the confusion that has caused.”

Butt said she’s “open and honest” with her constituents “and always will be.” Part of the relationship is admitting mistakes, she said.

“We all make mistakes,” Butt said. “We all disagree on things. However, we can disagree with civility and respect and without hatefulness and contention and work together on the things on which we do agree. As a community and as human beings, we owe each other that.”