Republican Challenger Calls Greg Abbott 'A Coward Who Encourages Abortion'

A Republican hoping to challenge Texas Governor Greg Abbott for their party's 2022 gubernatorial nomination has claimed Abbott is a "coward" who is encouraging abortions.

Don Huffines, who served in the Texas state senate from 2015 to 2019, issued a statement on Tuesday harshly criticizing the governor's recent remarks about the state's restrictive new abortion ban.

Abbott had answered questions about the new law—called Senate Bill (SB) 8—on Tuesday and argued that it did not require survivors of rape or incest to carry a fetus to term because the law allows for abortions within the first six weeks of pregnancy.

Huffines took issue with Abbott's remarks about the six-week period during which abortions are permitted.

In a statement issued via Twitter, Huffines said: "The pro-life response should always be to acknowledge the human value of all unborn children, and today Greg Abbott fell short of that very clear standard.

"It is disgusting to watch our governor tout his pro-life credentials while advocating for women to get abortions in the first six weeks of pregnancy."

"Texans are proud of the Texas Heartbeat Act [SB8] because any action to further protect unborn life moves Texas closer to where we need to be," Huffines' statement went on.

"Life begins at conception and any action taken to terminate the life of an unborn child is murder. Abortion is murder. We must end abortion entirely and prosecute those who participate in it."

"Texans deserve an actual pro-life governor who is committed to this mission, not a coward who encourages abortion," Huffines said.

Official statement from Don Huffines:

— Don Huffines (@DonHuffines) September 7, 2021

SB 8 bans abortion after the detection of what the law defines as a fetal heartbeat—a controversial and contested term. In effect, the law bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which is before many women even know they're pregnant.

In a second tweet, Huffines shared a video clip of Abbott's comments on abortion. In that video, a reporter asked Abbott if the new law requires someone who has survived rape or incest to carry the resulting fetus 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 said.

In the same press conference, Abbott said that Texas would reduce the instances of pregnancy caused by rape by going after rapists more aggressively.

"Let's make something very clear. Rape is a crime," Abbott said. "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. Goal number one in the state of Texas is to eliminate rape so that no woman, no person will be a victim of rape."

The next Texas gubernatorial election will take place on November 8, 2022 and Abbott is seeking a third term. The governor is facing opponents in the Republican primary, including Huffines and Allen West, former chair of the Texas Republican Party and previously a member of the House of Representatives for Florida's 22nd district.

Newsweek has asked Abbott's office for comment.

Greg Abbott Speaks at a Press Conference
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference where he signed Senate Bills 2 and 3 at the Capitol on June 8, 2021 in Austin, Texas. One of Abbott's Republican primary opponents has accused him of encouraging abortions. Montinique Monroe/Getty Images