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IN OUR VIEW | Not The Best Example: Despite assurances, Texas has long way to go on preventing, prosecuting rape

by Gazette Staff | September 8, 2021 at 2:02 a.m. | Updated September 9, 2021 at 2:40 p.m.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott spoke Tuesday about the controversial new law banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually about six weeks.

He took time to defend the law against critics who say it will limit options for women who become pregnant through rape.

During a news conference, Abbott dismissed those claims, saying six weeks is plenty of time for rape victims to have an abortion - even though critics contend women often don't know they are pregnant within that time frame.

So while arguable, Abbott's defense was still fairly reasonable.

But then governor went on to explain that women have little to fear anyway, since Texas plans to protect women against forcible sexual assault.

"Let's be 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," Abbott said.

Well, let us be clear: If the governor really believes that, he needs to make sure Texas does a much better job of it than in the past.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Lone Star State had more than 14,600 forcible rapes reported to police in 2019, the last year for which figures are available. That's second only to California. No one can say for sure how many others went unreported.

Only 23.7% of those reported cases were cleared by law enforcement. This is not to suggest police don't care or don't want to solve these horrible crimes. They do. But it's not as easy as Abbott seems to think.

The new abortion law will have it's defenders and detractors. But If the governor wanted to reassure women, he should have picked a better example.

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