Showing an unsurprising lack of knowledge about the way women’s bodies work, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday offered a disquieting defense of his state’s crushingly restrictive abortion law.
Abbott, who was in Tyler, Texas, to sign into law a sweeping election overhaul bill that will disproportionately restrict voting access for people of color and those with disabilities, had some extra time to take questions from reporters. One asked him, “Regarding the heartbeat bill, why force a rape or incest victim to carry a pregnancy to term?”
“It doesn’t require that at all,” Abbott replied. “Because obviously, it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion.”
The law, known as Senate Bill 8, does allow abortions for those who are less than six weeks into pregnancy. But that window only provides a woman with a best-case scenario—someone obsessively tracking a regular menstrual cycle of 28 days—that leaves about two weeks after her first missed period to have an abortion. In other words, at six weeks and often well beyond that point, most women have no idea they’re pregnant.
Abortion clinics and reproductive equality funds in Texas have already reported that they have received far fewer calls from women than usual in the days since the law’s passage. The stigma of abortion, already compounded if someone is underage or a sex trafficking victim, has been further aggravated by the confusing nature of S.B. 8, and its provision that allows “bounty-hunting” private citizens to enforce it, taking anyone who aids or abets an abortion to court for up to $10,000.
Abbott then followed up on his answer with a bizarre pivot. “Let’s make something very clear,” he said. “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.”
The governor’s statement seemingly ignored that three out of four rapes are committed by someone known to the victim, and he offered no elaboration as to how exactly his administration would eliminate rapists from the streets before they have committed an actual rape. The men standing in a row behind Abbott burst into applause anyway.