The Slatest

Texas Governor: Abortion Law Doesn’t Need Rape Exception, Victims Have Six Weeks Like Everyone Else

Greg Abbott gestures while speaking at a podium at a convention with an American flag in the background.
Republicans have never quite worked out how to square their primitive understanding of pregnancy with horrific crimes of rape and incest. Reuters/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Texas’ new abortion law is problematic for many, many reasons, ranging from its constitutionality to its invasiveness and curtailment of health care options for women in the state. But Republicans in Texas, and nationally, don’t really care about the impact of the law on real, out-of-the-womb women, which is why this law now exists. What the anti-women Republican crowd has always had trouble with, however, is how to square their (intentionally) primitive understanding of pregnancy with horrific crimes of rape and incest that can—and do—result in pregnancy. The new Texas law has no explicit provision giving any sort of protection to women who have been the victim of rape and become pregnant. In Texas, many, if not most, of these women would now—by law—be compelled to carry a pregnancy that came from a rape to term.

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When asked on Tuesday about this grisly reality where a rape victim would be forced to have the child of their assailant, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott casually rebutted that claim. “It doesn’t require that at all, because obviously it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion.”

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Abbott’s comments, like the policy he signed into law, are a willful misunderstanding of the realities of not only pregnancy but of being a victim of sexual assault. “I would love to see Texas address violence against women, but that is not what this bill does,” Texas Democratic Rep. Lizzie Fletcher told MSNBC Tuesday. “It’s kind of this magical thinking that’s typical of [Abbott’s] approach to governing, that he’ll give an answer that is really untethered to the reality of what he’s doing.”

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez broke down for CNN how both Abbott’s arguments fail to provide any meaningful protection for women in the real world. First, the biological realities of the six-week cutoff for care: “I’m sorry we have to break down biology 101 on national television, but in case no one has informed him before in his life, six weeks pregnant means two weeks late for your period,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And two weeks late on your period for any person—any person with a menstrual cycle—can happen if you’re stressed, if your diet changes, or for really no reason at all. So you don’t have six weeks.”

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The tidy fiction pushed by Abbott about the impact of sexual assault, particularly that resulting in a pregnancy, also falls flat. “[The perpetrators] are people’s uncles, they are teachers, they are family friends, and when something like that happens, it takes a very long time, first of all, for any victim to come forward,” Ocasio-Cortez explained. “And second of all, when a victim comes forward, they don’t necessarily want to bring their case into the carceral system. They don’t want to retraumatize themselves by going to court. They don’t necessarily all want to report a family friend to a police precinct, let alone in the immediate aftermath of the trauma of a sexual assault.”

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