Greg Abbott Defends Texas Abortion Law, Says Goal Number One 'Is to Eliminate Rape'

Texas Governor Greg Abbott defended his state's controversial abortion law on Tuesday, vowing to "eliminate rape" when asked by a reporter why he would sign a law that forces rape and incest victims to carry a pregnancy to term.

Abbott, a Republican, said the bill does not mandate they do so, as it allows abortions up to six weeks. However, reproductive rights advocates have pointed out that many pregnancies are not detected within six weeks.

"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."

He added that it is important to provide support for rape victims through organizations supported by the state and others.

U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, a Democrat who represents the El Paso area, responded on Twitter.

"1. Many women don't realize they're pregnant before six weeks," she wrote. "2. Texas has a terrible record on prosecuting rapes - case in point the backlog of literally thousands of rape kits that have gone unattended. @GovAbbott has made the state of Texas a dangerous place for women."

Democrat Julian Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio and presidential candidate, accused Abbott of lying.

"Many women don't even know they're pregnant by the 6-week mark when abortion is outlawed in this bill," Castro wrote. "Rape and incest victims would be forced to carry a pregnancy to term at that point—or face civil lawsuits for getting an abortion."

When reached for comment Tuesday afternoon by Newsweek, a spokesperson for Abbott's office referred to the remarks he made Tuesday, declining to offer any further comment.

The law has sparked criticism from members of both major political parties. It is considered one of the strictest abortion measures in the United States, and pro-choice groups have said the bill undermines Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that guarantees abortion access.

Abbott signed the law in May, and it took effect last Wednesday. It allows citizens to sue women who get an abortion as well as people who help her obtain one. Anyone who successfully sues would be entitled to at least $10,000.

Approximately 85 percent to 90 percent of people who obtain abortions in Texas are at least six weeks into pregnancy, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block to the law. However, it did not rule on its constitutionality, and a legal battle remains underway.

Even some Republicans, such as former President Donald Trump, have stayed mum on the law.

Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott defended the state’s ban on abortions past six weeks on Tuesday, vowing to “eliminate rape.” Above, Abbott speaks at the Capitol in Austin on June 8, 2021. Montinique Monroe/Getty Images