“An abortion is taking the life of a baby,” Abbott told reporters at a press conference in Houston, “and our goal in passing the laws that were passed is to protect the lives of those babies.”
He went on to say the state has made clear that, in each of its abortion restrictions, the mother cannot be prosecuted.
In previous instances about the topic, Abbott has stumbled over responses or said things that, when singled out by media or his critics, overshadowed his broader message.
When asked about the then-newly effective Heartbeat Act “forc[ing] a rape or incest victim to carry pregnancy to term” last September, Abbott said in response, “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.”
“That said, however…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, arresting prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.”
The next sentence — “goal number one is to eliminate rape so that no woman, no person will be a victim of rape” — was keyed in on by his critics and media onlookers and has been a feature of various campaign ads.
Another instance occurred earlier this month when, asked the same question, Abbott replied, “Those victims can access health care immediately…and by accessing that health care immediately, they can get the Plan B pill that can prevent a pregnancy from occurring in the first place.”
He’s been firm with his position on the issue before, more often when giving scripted comments, including at the Heartbeat Act’s bill signing last year when he said, “Our creator endowed us with the right to life, yet every year millions of children lose their right to life because of abortion. In Texas, we work to save those lives and that’s exactly what the Texas Legislature did this session.”
In addition to the Heartbeat Act, Abbott signed the Texas Legislature’s trigger ban, which took effect last month after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — a decision he applauded.
Statewide Democrats have increasingly hedged their bets on the abortion issue, hoping voter recoil at Roe’s demise can provide them a boost. Beto O’Rourke, Abbott’s November opponent, focused his first two television ads of the general election on the abortion laws Abbott signed. O’Rourke’s position is that abortion should be legal for the full nine-month term as an option left open solely to the pregnant woman.
But rather than tiptoe around technical aspects of abortion law, Abbott appears now to be focused fully on the heart of the issue for the pro-life movement: the unborn child and the natural consequence of terminating a pregnancy.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.