Austin, Texas (AP) — Time in Texas new abortion law Republican Gov. Greg Abbott defended it by assuring it made no exceptions in cases of rape.
A year later, Lindsay LeBlanc is still busy helping rape victims in the college suburb of Houston.
“The number remains consistently high,” said LeBlanc, executive director of the Sexual Assault Resource Center in Bryan, near Texas A&M University. still has a waiting list of victims.
“We are struggling to keep up with demand,” she said.
The constant number of cases in Texas is another example of how Republicans have struggled to defend themselves. Abortion ban with zero exceptions unpopular in pollshas caused uproar with high-profile cases and posed political risks ahead of the November midterm elections. At least 12 states also have enacted bans with no exceptions in cases of incest.
The lack of exceptions has caused divisions among Republicans, including in West Virginia, where a new law signed this month allows a short window for rape and incest victims to obtain. Abortion only if first reported to law enforcementRecently, the South Carolina Republican Party abandoned the proposed ban After failing to get enough GOP support.
“It’s really disgusting,” said Republican South Carolina Senator Katrina Seeley while flogging her male colleague on the state Senate floor.
Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, also from South Carolina, Proposed Nationwide Abortion Ban he introduced last week. The proposal has virtually no chance of passing, and even Republican leaders aren’t backing it any time soon. U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade Decision this summer.
An overwhelming majority of voters believe that abortion should be allowed in certain cases, such as rape, incest, or when a pregnant person’s health is at risk. Even Republicans see it as standing apart from some voters.
“This is a very gray issue,” said Claudia Alcazar, Republican chairman of Starr County on the Texas-Mexico border. new political battlefield After Republicans made big gains in 2020 with more conservative Hispanic voters.
She said, “I know people who are hardcore and for some reason have never had an abortion.” And there are other things like ‘Well, it depends’. ”
In Texas, the recoil was quick When Abbott said last September: Houston’s sexual assault hotline has handled nearly 4,800 calls through August, an increase from last year. of 4,843.
As of this summer, Texas has banned all abortions except those that save the mother’s life.
When asked what Abbott has done in the past year to eradicate rape, spokeswoman Renae Eze cites previous steps to clear the backlog of rape test kits, coordinating and expanding sexual assault resources. He highlighted the legislation signed in June aimed at and his office’s task force launched in his office. We will address this issue in 2019.
“To prevent such heinous crimes before they occur and to prosecute offenders within the law, Governor Abbott will vigorously oppose defunding the police and release dangerous criminals. We have been leading bail reform efforts to prevent malpractice,” Eze said. statement.
More than 14,000 rape crimes have been reported in Texas since the law went into effect last year, according to Texas Department of Public Safety data. This is a slight decrease from the previous year and is in line with declines in other violent crimes statewide.
The Texas Crisis Center says the number of rape victims who have accompanied them to hospitals for testing is recovering because pandemic restrictions have prevented supporters from entering. It has made more than 650 visits to consult victims undergoing testing in the past year, compared with about 340, said Alisha Mathenia, assistant director of crisis management services at the center.
The majority of sexual assaults go unreported to police, so the available data provide an incomplete picture. And according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, about 8 out of 10 cases of sexual assault are by people who know the victim.
“We’re not talking about a bunch of rapists roaming the streets. It’s a myth,” said Austin state representative Donna Howard, a Democrat who co-authored the bill to create Abbott’s task force. said.
At the SAFE Alliance in Austin, where victims of sexual assault can receive testing and medical care at the Eloise House, senior director Juliana Gonzalez said the state of Texas’s commitment to rape prevention is commendable. “But I also think it’s important that countries live with the reality that they have to respond to sexual assault,” she said.
Stengl reported from Dallas.
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