I have written before when Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, says things that do not hold up well under even light scrutiny. His latest is no different. When asked, in light of the new bill SB 8, why “force a rape or incest victim to carry a pregnancy to term” he responded:
“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, so for one it doesn’t [require] that. That said, however, let’s make something very 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 going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.”
As a philosopher (and a person with a heart), statements like this tend to make me a little nutso because they are so laden with disingenuity it is staggering. Although a brief quotation, there is a lot to break down.
Let’s start with the question itself, which was why force a victim of rape or incest to give birth. He claimed the bill does not “require that at all.” Why does it not? Well, because the law allows for abortion up to six weeks. Setting aside the well-known fact that a woman typically will not know she is pregnant before six weeks, there is something else (and just as insidious) to point out. What surely motivated the question was that SB 8 does not provide an exception for rape and incest victims. Abbott’s reply was essentially that it does not force victims of rape or incest because, gee, victims have the same amount of time as anyone else to get an abortion.
Let’s be clear, Governor. After six weeks SB 8 does indeed force a victim of rape or incest to carry a pregnancy to term. If you are going to pass a law, stand by it. Don’t sidestep. With all that such victims go through, your response that they have six weeks just like everyone else is not only ridiculous, it is heartless and cruel. Be clear, also, that SB 8 has no provision or exception for rape or incest. No distinction is made between women who have an unintended pregnancy from mutually consensual sex and women who have been raped.
Changing the subject
The next thing Governor Abbott does is a rhetorical sidestep. Despite the fact that the question concerned the victims of rape, he decides to talk about rapists—and how tough he is going to be. So let’s not talk about what SB 8 does or does not do for victims of rape or incest, let’s shift our focus to the rapist.
The Governor is very serious here, you can tell, because he says, “…let’s make something very clear.” And if you watch the clip, he says this in a very serious tone. So, I am going to take him seriously and break down what he goes on to say.
First, he tells us rape is a crime in the state of Texas. That’s good. Very glad to know that. So, since rape is a crime, what is he going to do? This next statement is outlandish. Yes, I am still taking the statement seriously and my response here is a seriously proportionate one to the claim. Since rape is a crime, Texas is going to work “tirelessly” (this means that what he is about to say must be a high priority) to “make sure” (no shadow of doubt here) to do what? He claims that with tireless resolve his administration will make certain that they “eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas….” Not some. Not as many as they can. All. Every last one.
Aristotle would say this statement is made universally about a universal. The “universal” is “rapists.” There is no particular category of rapists or any individual rapists, but simply “rapists.” Universal. How many rapists will be eliminated from Texas streets? All of them. Universally. This is a bold statement. Governor Greg Abbott has made a promise that not a single rapist will be left on the streets of the state of Texas because they are going to “aggressively [go] out and [arrest] them and [prosecute] them and [get] them off the streets.”
Back up just a step to SB 8 and the question the reporter asked, which was why force victims of rape or incest to carry a pregnancy to term? In light of Governor Abbott’s bold claim, the question no longer matters! Why? There will not be victims of rape (what about incest that is not rape?) because there will not be any rapists! Now there is a bold vision!
If (when) all rapists are not eliminated from the streets of Texas, Governor Abbott should be held to account. To make such a strong, absolute claim, he is obligated to see it through. I, for one, would like to see this aggressive, tireless campaign to make sure no rapist is left on the streets of Texas, but instead arrested, prosecuted, and put away for good.
What’s the plan?
What’s the plan Governor? Is there a timeline? How is every rapist in the state of Texas going to be eliminated from our streets? There will be a lot to prosecute and put in prison. Are you going to make room by allowing those convicted of non-violent crimes out of prison? You cannot achieve such a bold vision without a plan to make it happen. So what is it? How are you going to pay for it? You are going to need a whole lot of law enforcement across this massive state devoted to this aggressive plan.
My Governor has a hard task ahead. Texas is rated as the 15th most dangerous state in America for rape/sexual assault (Alaska is no. 1). The statistics reveal that 55.2 rapes and incidences of sexual assault occur per every 100,000 people. In a state of 29 million people, at the very most we are looking at a little more than 16,000 rapists. (If anyone wants to separate sexual assault that is not legally defined as rape, fine, go ahead. Given Governor Abbott’s bold campaign to eliminate rapists, it is reasonable to say he should get all who commit any form of sexual assault off the streets.). Now, assuming some rapists commit the crime more than once (and I don’t know any statistics here) that 16,000 number will be lower. Regardless of the number, getting rid of all of them is no small job.
Some might say that not all crimes of rape are against women. Men are victims of rape, too. This is true, but not a relevant point. Certainly, Governor Abbott cannot restrict eliminating rapists from the street to only those who rape women.
Really, the point is this. In response to a question about SB 8 forcing women who are raped to give birth, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that these victims are not forced because they have six weeks like everyone else; and, besides, it is not going to matter because he is going to get all the rapists off the street. Texas is going to be a rapist- and, therefore, rape-free state.
Regardless of your beliefs and convictions concerning abortion, one cannot reasonably understand Abbott’s words as anything else but that. Complete and utter bullshit.