AUSTIN (KXAN) — U.S. Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has slammed controversial comments Texas Governor Abbott made Tuesday about the state’s newly enacted restrictive abortion laws.
Senate Bill 8, which became law Sept. 1, bans abortion procedures after six weeks of pregnancy — including in cases of rape and incest. It’s the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S. and both Abbott and the Texas legislature have faced fierce criticism for its passage.
On Tuesday, Abbott re-ignited the fire when asked whether the new law would force a rape or incest victim to carry their baby to term.
Abbott responded that the law doesn’t do that because victims can get abortions within the six week period. While SB 8 allows for abortion up to six weeks, this time period is usually before most people even realize they’re pregnant.
‘I find Governor Abbott’s comments disgusting,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night. “I don’t know if he is familiar with a menstruating person’s body. In fact, I do know that he’s not familiar with a menstruating person’s body because if he did he would that you don’t have six weeks.”
“In case no one has informed him [Abbott] in his life, six weeks pregnant means two weeks late for your period. Two weeks late on your period, for any person with a menstrual cycle, can happen if you’re stressed, if your diet changes, or for really no reason at all. So you don’t have six weeks.”
Abbott also continued his explanation on Tuesday by saying victims of rape and incest wouldn’t have to give birth because the state of Texas would work to “eliminate rape.”
“Let’s be clear: rape is a crime,” Abbott said. “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.”
The concept of “eliminating rape” was widely criticized as being nonsensical and also impossible. Ocasio-Cortez said the comments also don’t reflect reality of who the perpetrators of sexual assault typically are.
The New York Democrat continued, saying:
“When he [Abbott] talks about going after rapists and this language that he uses about ‘getting rapists of the streets’ — the majority of people who are raped and who are sexually assaulted are assaulted by someone they know. These aren’t just predators that are walking around the streets at night. They are people’s uncles, they are teachers, they are family friends.”
The New York Democrat Ocasio-Cortez also explained that the legal process of prosecuting a rapist can be long, unsuccessful and retraumatizing to victims. She said that while some victims do choose to pursue charges, many don’t want to perpetuate the trauma through litigation.
AOC, as she’s known, concluded by saying: “It’s awful. And he [Abbott] speaks from such a place of deep ignorance and it’s not just ignorance. It’s ignorance that is hurting people across this country.”
In addition to the post-six-week procedure ban, SB 8 enables private citizens to sue for $10,000 or more against anyone who helps someone get an abortion after the specified time period. Opponents of the bill say this will lead to widespread harassment, deputizing of citizens against one another, and a backlog of frivolous lawsuits.
Follow KXAN’s Russell Falcon on Twitter @RussellFalcon for more Texas abortion law updates.