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Texas Matters: Abortion Vigilantes And 'Eliminating' Texas Rapists

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U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

On Thursday Attorney General Merrick Garland tried to block the Texas SB8 anti-abortion law. The law took effect on Sept. 1 and was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott. This is the nation’s more restrictive anti-abortion law. It bans the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy and allows private citizens to take legal action against anyone who helps a woman terminate her pregnancy.

The Justice Department filed the suit Thursday in Austin and asked a judge to “protect the rights that Texas has violated” by declaring the abortion law unconstitutional and issuing an injunction blocking its enforcement.

At a news conference, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the ban "is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing Supreme Court precedent."

"Those precedents hold, in the words of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that regardless of whether exceptions are made for particular circumstances, a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability," said Garland.

For more on the law, the challenge to it by the justice department and what this means for reproductive rights Texas Matters spoke with Washington Post Legal Affairs reporter Ann Marimow.

Eliminating Rape

On Tuesday, as Gov. Greg Abbott signed the controversial voting bill, he was asked about the lack of a rape exception in the abortion law.

"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.

Abbott’s comments about eliminating rape from the streets stunned many who work to support survivors of sexual violence. Not only did these remarks sound tone deaf but they demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding about sexual assault, how common it is in Texas and the lack of options that typically exists for a person who has been impregnated during a rape.

Texas Matters spoke with Juliana Gonzales, Senior Director of Sexual Assault and Health Services at SAFE – Stop Abuse For Everyone.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi