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Texas, national politicians criticize Abbott's plan to 'eliminate rape' in wake of new abortion law

Gov. Greg Abbott drew criticism from saying he will "eliminate rape" in the wake of new abortion restrictions. (YouTube)

At a signing for Texas' newest voting laws Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott offered an ambitious—and perplexing—statement: in response to concerns that the state's newest abortion law would ban rape and incest victims from having access to abortions past six weeks, Abbott said he and the state would work to "eliminate rape."

"Let's make one thing clear: rape is a crime, and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively arresting them and prosecuting them," Abbott said.

The statement has drawn ire from many state and national politicians, including the Biden administration. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki criticized Abbott's confidence in eliminating rapes in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

"There has never in the history of the country in the world, been any leader who's ever been able to eliminate rape, eliminate rapists from our streets," Psaki said.

National and local politicians, including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez and Austin Mayor Steve Adler, took to national news outlets to express their disapproval of the governor's comments.

Ocasia-Cortez said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360°" Tuesday that the statement is illogical and unrealistic to both rape and incest victims and women who may often experience periods that are two weeks late.

"I find Gov. Abbott's comments disgusting," Ocasio-Cortez said on the talk show. "The majority of people who are raped are assaulted by someone that they know," Ocasio-Cortez said. "These aren't just predators that are walking around the streets at night."

The bill also puts the power of enforcement in the hands of the people. Those who sue a clinic provider or someone who helps a woman obtain an illegal abortion could be awarded $10,000 or more in court.

Adler, who also took to MSNBC's "The Reid Out" on Tuesday night, criticized both the law's rape policies and its allowance of "private vigilantes."

"Watching the governor today talk about how his answer to eliminate rape is outrageous... it is just getting more and more surreal down here in Texas, almost by the minute," Adler said. "Already, we have women fleeing the state."

Other Texas politicians were critical of Abbott's rape elimination plan, including State Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston).

Some defended Abbott's remarks, however, including Texas Republican Party Vice Chair Cat Parks, who said any governor should work to end rape in their state.

But the move could prove fatal for Abbott's plans for reelection in 2022 and could even curb Texas' rapid growth. According to a Texas Politics Project poll in August 2021, 50% of surveyed voters disapprove of Abbott's actions and 41% approve, his lowest-ever in office. According to the poll, 52% of Texans say the state is moving in the wrong direction, the lowest since the poll's inception in 2008.

The low ratings come as other controversial bills including permitless carry, voting reform and banning of "critical race theory" in Texas schools continue to divide residents. Some, including Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidate Joe Jaworski, say this could be the nail in the coffin for Abbott.


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