Rape Survivor Calls Greg Abbott's Comments a 'Slap in the Face'

A Texas woman who was raped in 2010 has joined the list of people who have condemned Gov. Greg Abbott's comments about his plans to "eliminate" the crime in the state.

Abbott made the claim on Tuesday while defending the recently passed restrictive abortion law, which has banned the procedure in Texas in almost all circumstance.

Senate Bill 8 now means abortions are prohibited in the state if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, something which can occur after just six weeks.

When asked if women who are victims of rape should be forced to give birth to their attacker's baby under the new laws, Abbott suggested that six weeks is enough time to get an abortion before vowing that woman will eventually no longer be victims of sexual assaults in Texas.

"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."

Speaking to KTRK, rape survivor Raquel Fatiuk condemned the new law passed in Texas as well as Abbott's statements suggesting that rape is something that can be eliminated.

"It is stressful and confusing and it is one of the most traumatic things probably anyone can experience, and so to add any sort of additional pressure is just alarming and not fair," she said.

Fatiuk said the governor's comments about getting rid of rape is "a little bit of a slap in the face" as most victims are targeted by people they know.

"He said eliminate rape in the streets, and rape really isn't in the streets," she said. "It's not the Boogeyman hiding in a bush. It's people we know. People that are acquaintances."

Fatiuk, originally from Houston, has became an advocate for sexual assault victims after she was attacked in Los Angeles in 2010.

Emilee Whitehurst, the CEO of the Houston Area Women's Center, added that even attempting to eliminate rape is not a case of "hunting the rapists down and getting them off the streets," as Abbott suggested.

"They are teachers, they are pastors, they are our husbands, [and] they are our boyfriends. The relational dynamics that are at play when you've been assaulted by someone, and it results in a pregnancy are very challenging," Whitehurst said.

In a statement to Newsweek regarding the criticism he has received, Abbott's press secretary Renae Eze said: "Governor Abbott has championed the safety and security of all Texans, and has particularly focused on protecting and supporting woman who may be victims of sexual assault.

"Even with the strongest laws and best enforcement, evil people will do evil things—and our responsibility as a society is to support crime victims with the resources and help they need.

"From his earliest years of public service when he helped form Justice for All, an organization formed in response to a woman who was assaulted, through his days as Attorney General and Governor, Greg Abbott has relentlessly worked to hunt down and prosecute any criminal to the full extent of the law and provide victims with the help and support they need," Eze added.

"He always knows that more must be done, and he will not relent until all Texans get the safety they deserve."

A number of political figures have also criticized Abbott for his remarks about rape and the suggestion that six weeks is enough time for women to realize they are pregnant and arrange an abortion.

"Greg Abbott is lying. Many women don't even know they're pregnant by the 6-week mark when abortion is outlawed in this bill," tweeted former mayor of San Antonio and Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro.

"Rape and incest victims would be forced to carry a pregnancy to term at that point—or face civil lawsuits for getting an abortion."

El Paso congresswoman Veronica Escobar added: "1. Many women don't realize they're pregnant before six weeks.

"2. Texas has a terrible record on prosecuting rapes—case in point the backlog of literally thousands of rape kits that have gone unattended. Gov. Abbott has made the state of Texas a dangerous place for women."

Elsewhere, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez mocked Abbott's comment by suggesting he put a $10,000 bounty on rapists.

"If Gov. Abbott is as 'anti-rape' as he claims, why doesn't he just lead the Texas state leg to pass a law for $10k bounties on people who engage in or aid sexual assault?" she tweeted.

"Or is he opposed to that because it's a slippery slope of vigilantism where men could be unjustly targeted?"

The figure is a reference to part of the Texas abortion law which states that doctors, nurses and even people who drive a woman to get an abortion could be sued for at least $10,000.

greg abbott rape
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announces the reopening of more Texas businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol on May 18, 2020 in Austin, Texas. A woman has condemned Abbott's comments about his plans to "eliminate" rape in the state. Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool//Getty Images