Gov. Greg Abbott defended his state’s restrictive new abortion law on Tuesday, saying it doesn’t force victims impregnated during a rape to give birth while he also emphasized efforts to “eliminate all rapists” in Texas.
Abbott’s remark came during a news conference as the governor was asked about the state’s newly enacted anti-abortion law essentially banning the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is about six weeks into pregnancy — a time when some women aren’t even aware they’re with child.
The law notably doesn’t provide an exception in the case of rape or incest, prompting a reporter to ask Abbott why sex assault survivors would be forced to carry a pregnancy to term.
“It doesn’t require that at all, because obviously it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion,” Abbott responded.
“That said, however, let’s make something very clear,” he continued. “Rape is a crime and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.”
While the state’s top goal is to “eliminate rape” entirely so no one becomes a victim, Texas will make sure that the state provides support to survivors.
The controversial law is the nation’s most far-reaching curb on abortions since the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure nearly a half-century ago.
It went into effect earlier this month after the high court’s conservative majority voted to deny an emergency appeal by a group of Texas abortion clinics and advocates seeking to stop it from going into effect.
A dozen states have tried to enact similar “heartbeat bills,” but courts have blocked those from being implemented.
What separates the measure from the other recent pushes to curb the procedure is the law’s unusual enforcement scheme, which doesn’t rely on government officials. Rather, enforcement falls to private citizens, who are authorized to sue abortion providers and those helping facilitate the process after the first six weeks.
A person who successfully sues someone under the law stands to gain at least $10,000.