Republican Governor Greg Abbott justified the state’s new abortion law, which provided no exceptions in cases of rape, by saying the state will immediately begin working to eliminate rapes.
Despite the passage of a year, Lindsey LeBlanc’s work with rape victims in the college town of Cypress, Texas, continues unabated.
LeBlanc, director of the Sexual Assault Resource Center in Bryan, near Texas A&M University, said, “The numbers have maintained continuously high.” Still, she has a waiting list of victims despite having hired two more counselors in the past six months.
We are working hard to keep up with the demand, but it is becoming difficult “her words
Republicans’ inability to defend zero-exception abortion prohibitions, which are unpopular in public polling, have caused outrage in high-profile cases, and invite political risk ahead of the midterm elections in November is exemplified by the constant caseloads in Texas. Since September 2021, when Texas’ legislation went into effect, at least a dozen other states have passed similar prohibitions, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
In West Virginia, where a new law was just approved this month allowing a small window for rape and incest victims to receive abortions only if they report to law police first, the absence of exceptions has produced a rift among Republicans. Having failed to get enough support inside the party, South Carolina Republicans recently scrapped a prohibition proposal.
“It absolutely disgusts me,” Republican state senator Katrina Shealy of South Carolina remarked, lashing out at her male colleagues on the Senate floor.
South Carolina’s other U.S. senator, Republican Lindsey Graham, introduced a nationwide ban on abortion last week, although he included room for states to create their own restrictions. Even GOP leaders aren’t immediately backing the proposal, which shows how difficult it is for Republicans to talk about abortion with voters after the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade this summer.
Voters in many places have said they support legalizing abortion in certain circumstances as those involving rape, incest, or the pregnant person’s health being in danger. Some Republican supporters see it as a line, as well.
Starr County, located on the Texas–Mexico border, has become a new electoral battlefield due to the GOP’s large gains among more conservative Hispanic voters in 2020. “It’s a very murky subject,” said the GOP chairperson in Starr County, Claudia Alcazar.
She has friends who will “absolutely never” get an abortion, no matter what. And then there are those who are all “Well, you know, it depends” on the situation.
After Abbott’s statement in September that “Texas would strive hard to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets,” the state received immediate backlash.” Some people thought it was too far removed from reality. Nearly 4,800 calls have been made to a Houston sexual assault hotline this year through August, putting the number of calls received on course to surpass the 4,843 received all of last year.
This summer, Texas passed a law prohibiting all abortions except in cases when the mother’s life is in danger.
When asked what Abbott has done in the last year to eliminate rape, his spokeswoman Renae Eze pointed to a statute signed in June aimed at coordinating and expanding sexual assault resources, as well as a task group his administration created in 2019 to address the issue.
Governor Abbott “has vigorously battled against defunding the police and championed bail reform initiatives to prevent the release of dangerous offenders,” Eze said in a statement.
Since the law went into force in Texas last year, almost 14,000 rape incidents have been reported, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. That’s in keeping with a statewide drop in violent crime rates and a modest decrease from the previous year.
There has been an increase in the number of rape victims that crisis centers in Texas have accompanied to hospitals for medical examinations once the limits imposed due to the pandemic were lifted. According to Alisha Mathenia, the assistant director of crisis services at the Women’s Center in Fort Worth, the number of visits made in the past year to advise victims undergoing tests increased from roughly 340 to over 650.
Because most sexual assaults are never reported to authorities, we only have a partial picture of the problem. Also, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network reports that eight out of ten victims of sexual assault are attacked by someone they know.