- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state will work to “eliminate all rapists” about the state’s abortion law.
- The state’s new “heartbeat” abortion ban, Senate Bill 8, has no exceptions for rape or incest.
- The law deputizes private citizens to bring lawsuits against abortion providers.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Texas Gov. Abbott said in a press conference on Tuesday that the state’s new abortion law will not force rape victims to carry their assailant’s child to term. To achieve this, the governor pledged to “eliminate all rapists” in Texas, local NBC affiliate KXAN reported.
“Let’s make something very clear: rape is a crime,” Abbott said while signing Senate Bill 1, a major GOP election reform bill. “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.”
“So goal number one in the state of Texas is to eliminate rape so that no woman, no person, will be a victim of it,” Abbott added, adding that Texas also has numerous organizations that support rape victims.
The new law, which went into effect on September 1, prohibits people in Texas from having an abortion after a fetal “heartbeat,” which is not a real heartbeat but actually electrical activity, can be detected on an ultrasound. The law allows no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
That activity can be detected at about six weeks of pregnancy, which is earlier than most people even know they are pregnant, despite Abbott’s claim in the same press conference that the bill provides rape victims “at least six weeks” to obtain an abortion.
Over 80% of rape victims are assaulted by someone they know, most commonly an acquaintance or intimate partner, according to statistics compiled by RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network. Among juvenile rape victims, over 90% know their assailant.
Texas’ law, known as Senate Bill 8, is the first “heartbeat” or six-week abortion ban enacted since Roe v. Wade that courts have, so far, allowed to stay in place, largely thanks to its unusual enforcement mechanism.
Instead of tasking state officials to enforce the prohibition of abortions after a certain point, like most other abortion bans passed in GOP state legislatures, Texas’ law deputizes private citizens to bring civil lawsuits against abortion providers and those who “aid or abet” abortion procedures and enables those plaintiffs to earn damages of up to $US10,000 ($AU13,447).
After the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals canceled a planned trial court hearing where a federal judge was poised to consider temporarily blocking state judges from docketing such civil suits in response to a lawsuit from abortion providers including Whole Women’s Health, the plaintiffs appealed up to the US Supreme Court.
The high court declined to temporarily enjoin the law by a vote of 5-4, sending the proceedings back to the lower courts, keeping the law in effect, and rendering abortion effectively banned in the state.