DALLAS — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is taking heat for a comment made while defending a new state law banning most abortions with no exceptions for victims of rape or incest.
The governor said Tuesday that the law does not force victims to give birth even though it bans abortions before most women know they’re pregnant.
When asked by WFAA reporter Alex Rozier about forcing those women to carry their attacker's baby to term, Abbott's answers were pounced on by critics.
"Obviously, it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion, and so, for one, it doesn't provide that," Abbott said. "That said 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."
Critics argue that allowing abortions before a heartbeat is detected -- usually around six weeks -- excludes most women because they don't know they're pregnant at that point.
The CEO of the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center called the comments "confusing and disheartening."
“Certainly it is in our mission statement to work to end sexual violence, that is why we exist, but we are also very aware that that is an aspirational goal that yes, we do believe that this is a preventable crime, but it if it were that easy, rape would no longer exist,” Amy Jones said.
Recent surveys by the U.S. Department of Justice found that most rapes go unreported to police, including a 2019 survey that found about 1 in 3 victims reported they were raped or sexually assaulted.
The Texas law is the strictest abortion law in the U.S. since they were legalized a half-century ago.
The Biden administration calls it unconstitutional and is exploring options to challenge the law. The Justice Department has said it will not tolerate violence against anyone who's trying to get an abortion in Texas.
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Although other red states have passed similar measures, they have been blocked by courts. Texas' version differs significantly because it solely leaves enforcement to private citizens who can sue abortion providers who violate the law. In return, they're rewarded with at least $10,000.