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.
Reporter: Why force a rape or incest victim to carry a pregnancy to term?
Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX): "It doesn't require that at all, because obviously it provides at least 6 weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion." pic.twitter.com/Mbx5JVHG1D
— The Recount (@therecount) September 7, 2021
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.
Jen Psaki just did this to Greg Abbott for claiming that he is going to eliminate all rapists, "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." pic.twitter.com/XT8SI7qNgM
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) September 8, 2021
"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."
Sad that in 2021 I have to explain to a GOP Governor that:
1. “6 weeks pregnant" = 2 weeks late for your period
2. Periods are late all the time from stress, diet,etc
3. Most people know their rapists
but GOP want to have more control over your body than you do, so here we are. https://t.co/IVCGHvkp6q
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 8, 2021
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."
"It is just getting more and more surreal down here in #Texas almost by the minute," #Austin @MayorAdler says. #TheReidOut #reiders pic.twitter.com/DptcYnpbWe
— The ReidOut (@thereidout) September 7, 2021
Other Texas politicians were critical of Abbott's rape elimination plan, including State Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston).
I'm 98% sure that Governor Abbott's RAPE elimination plan will consist of:
1 - DON'T GET RAPED
— Gene Wu (@GeneforTexas) September 8, 2021
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.
He said he'd “work tirelessly to remove rapists from the streets." What woman in their right mind goes after a Governor for that? @juliejohnsonTX is a disingenuous hack trying to score political points by cultivating misinformation. #sickstuff #TexasDeservesBetter https://t.co/vc4IcHVuGx
— Cat Parks (@CatParksTX) September 8, 2021
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.
Texas Gov Greg Abbott signed #SB1; a great mistake which he'll come to regret. His #votersuppression, along with disallowing reproductive care for rape & incest victims, is so against the interests & sentiments of most Texans. #TXGOP: prepare to meet your fate at the polls.
— Joe Jaworski (@JaworskiForTX) September 7, 2021
- Texas House Democrats fleeing the state to block voting restrictions ... ›
- Abbott doubles down on voting bill, announces second special ... ›
- Gun control advocates say new permitless carry law could endanger ... ›
- 5 things to know about the permitless gun carry law in Texas - austonia ›
- Gov. Greg Abbott signs into law one of nation's strictest abortion ... ›
- Texas' growth may be slowed by abortion ban, poll reports - austonia ›
- Texas law banning abortion as early as six weeks goes into effect as ... ›
- Most restrictive abortion law in U.S. affects Texas women - austonia ›
After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.