(NBC News) - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott defended the state's restrictive new abortion law Tuesday, saying it doesn't force victims of rape to give birth and vowing to "eliminate all rapists."
Abbott, a Republican, took questions from reporters Tuesday morning after an event at which he signed a sweeping election bill into law. Asked whether the abortion law would force rape victims to give birth, he said: "It doesn't require that at all, obviously. It provides at least six weeks for a person to get an abortion."
The law, known as Senate Bill 8, went into effect last Wednesday after the Supreme Court didn't act to block it. It bans an abortion once fetal cardiac activity can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many people are even aware that they are pregnant. Because pregnancy is measured from the first day of the last menstrual cycle — about two weeks before conception — victims of sexual assault have no more than four weeks to obtain abortions under the new law.
"Rape is a crime, and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas," said Abbott, who added, "There are services available to support victims of rape in the state to make sure that anybody who's victimized will get the support they need."
Since the ruling, the Biden administration and congressional Democrats have said they will work to enshrine abortion rights in federal law as other GOP-led states put forward similarly restrictive bills. Biden, who said the law violates the Constitution, he pledged to "protect and defend" abortion rights and vowed a governmentwide response.