Rape Abortion Ban: The Texas governor promised a rape-free state — he broke his word

The abortion ruling by the US Supreme Court in June 2021 has drastically tightened abortion laws in numerous conservative-governed states.

Rape Abortion Ban: The Texas governor promised a rape-free state — he broke his word

The abortion ruling by the US Supreme Court in June 2021 has drastically tightened abortion laws in numerous conservative-governed states. In Texas, too, abortions have been banned since September 1, 2021, as soon as heart activity has been detected in the fetus - i.e. after about the sixth week, when women often do not even know that they are pregnant. Violators of the law or even assisting in a prohibited abortion face a fine of at least $10,000.

The new regulation called Senate Bill 8 only provides for exceptions in medical emergencies documented by a doctor, i.e. when the life of the pregnant woman is threatened. Victims of rape or incest, on the other hand, have to carry their children to term. Texas Governor Greg Abbott brushed aside criticism of this a year ago with an announcement that his state would prevent rapes in the future.

"Why would a rape or incest victim be forced to carry the child?" Abbot was asked by a reporter at the time.

His response: "It's not required at all because the law allows at least six weeks for a person to have an abortion. But let's get this straight: rape is a crime and Texas will work tirelessly to protect all rapists off the Texas streets by aggressively cracking down on them, arresting them, prosecuting them, and getting them off the streets.The ultimate goal of the state of Texas is to eliminate rape so that no woman—no person—is a victim of rape ."

Abbott's promise was criticized by many observers as absurd and unworldly, and in fact he couldn't believe it: "The numbers have remained consistently high," Lindsey LeBlanc, executive director of the Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC) in the city of Bryan, tells the Associated Press ( AP) the rush of raped women. Despite hiring two additional counselors in the past six months, there is still a waiting list for victims. "We're struggling to keep up with demand."

The figures from a telephone hotline for victims of sexual violence in Houston paint the same picture: by August of this year, the employees there had taken almost 4,800 calls - and are thus well on the way to exceeding the previous year's volume of 4,843.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, more than 14,000 rape offenses have been reported since Senate Bill 8 went into effect. This is slightly less than last year, which is in line with the decline in other violent crimes in the state.

Response centers in Texas are reporting that their counselors are taking more rape victims to hospital checkups since pandemic restrictions lifted their access, according to the AP. And the Fort Worth Women's Center says it made more than 650 visits last year to counsel victims undergoing screening, compared to about 340 the year before.

"We would all like to eliminate rape in Texas and around the world," LeBlanc told Rolling Stone last December. "Unfortunately, it's not enough to just say, 'We're going to get rid of them' and that's what happens." According to the SARC boss, the staff in the counseling center would prefer to make themselves superfluous through their own work. "Unfortunately, it's not that simple. We can't even take care of all the survivors who come to us."

When asked what Abbott has done about rape over the past year, spokeswoman Renae Eze told the Associated Press, "To prevent such heinous crimes before they happen and to prosecute all criminals to the fullest extent of the law, has Gov. Abbott aggressively campaigned against cutting police funding and spearheaded bail law reform to prevent the release of dangerous criminals." This statement corresponds almost word for word to the statement that Eze made to "Rolling Stone" back in December.

"From the smallest Texas town to the sprawling metropolis of the state, the picture is the same: rapes are reported at similar rates and rapists evade prosecution at about the same rate," the magazine wrote at the time, when the abortion ban was more than three years old months in force. "The difference is that since September, rape victims in Texas have been largely deprived of the ability to terminate a pregnancy that may have occurred as a result of the attack."

Quellen: Senate Bill 8, Associated Press, "Rolling Stone", "Texas Tribune", "Business Insider"

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