Fox News anchor Chris Wallace repeatedly pressed Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday over the lack of an exception for rape and incest in his state’s near-total abortion ban, wondering aloud if Abbott’s bizarre promise to “eliminate” rapists was “reasonable.”
Earlier this month, the Texas governor defended his state’s sweeping and highly restrictive abortion law that eliminates nearly all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy—an extremely narrow time window in which most women are still unaware they’re pregnant. Besides essentially allowing bounty-hunting by private citizens to enforce the law, Senate Bill 8 also lacks any exceptions for victims of rape or incest.
“Let’s make something very clear,” Abbott said on Sept. 7. “Rape is a crime. And Texas will work tirelessly to make sure 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.”
Interviewing the conservative governor on Fox News Sunday, Wallace replayed Abbott’s remarks saying he would “eliminate rape” before noting that in 2019 there were over 15,000 rapes reported in the state of Texas, adding that number is almost certainly an extreme undercount.
“Is it reasonable to say to somebody who was the victim of rape and might not understand that they are pregnant, you know, until six weeks, ‘Well, don’t worry about it because we are going to eliminate rape as a problem in the state of Texas?’” Wallace asked the governor.
“Well, there’s multiple things I have to say in answer to this but the first thing obviously is that survivors of sexual assault, they deserve support, care, and compassion and Texas is stepping up to make sure that we provide that by signing a law and creating in the governor’s office a sexual assault survivors task force,” Abbott responded. “But separately from that, Chris, I got to point out about the ways that I have fought to go to arrest and apprehend and try to eliminate rape. I sought the death penalty.”
Cutting Abbott off, the veteran anchor once again reiterated that there were thousands of reported rapes under the governor’s watch, noting that a GOP state legislator has proposed a measure to the abortion law that would provide rape and incest exceptions.
“If that came to your desk, will you sign it or not?” Wallace pressed Abbott.
Deflecting the question, the governor said the reason the law was passed in the first place was to “protect the lives of every child with a heartbeat,” prompting the Fox News Sunday moderator to fire back: “Including the child of a rape?!”
Abbott asserted that the law was “consistent” with the Supreme Court’s position, which is that “states have the ability to make sure that we protect the health and safety of both the mother and the child.” Wallace, meanwhile, interjected once more in order to get a direct answer from the governor.
“Just to lock this down, are you saying, sir—I don’t mean to interrupt—but are you saying that you will not sign an exception for rape and incest?” Wallace confronted Abbott.
“First, I’ve got to tell you, Chris, you’re making a hypothetical that’s not going to happen because that bill is not going to reach my desk,” the governor casually replied. “But second, again, the goal is to protect the life of every child with a heartbeat.”