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Texas promised to "take all rapists off the streets." This is what has changed a year later

2022-09-25T17:11:12.500Z

In 2021, the state banned abortion without including an exception for women who have been sexually abused. Governor Greg Abbott defended the law, assuring that it would eradicate these crimes, although most are committed by acquaintances of the victims. 



By Paul J. Weber and Jamie Stengle —

The Associated Press

When the new law against abortion was passed in Texas, an exception was not included for those who had suffered rape.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said that wouldn't be a problem: The state would get to work removing rapists from the streets. 

A year later, Lindsey LeBlanc, who helps rape victims on a college town outside of Houston, says she's never had so much work.  

"The numbers have stayed consistently high," said LeBlanc, executive director of the Sexual Assault Resource Center in Bryan, near Texas A&M University.

Despite hiring two additional counselors in the last six months, he still has a waiting list for victims.

“We are struggling to keep up with the demand,” he said.

The ongoing rape cases in Texas are an example of how Republicans are having trouble defending abortion bans without exception.

These initiatives have proven unpopular in the polls, generate controversial cases and cause political risk ahead of the November elections.

A year after the Texas law took effect in September 2021, at least a dozen states also have bans that make no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

[Abortion on the high seas: This doctor offers abortions in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for those who live where it is prohibited]

The lack of exceptions has divided Republicans, including in West Virginia where a new law signed this month allows a short window for rape and incest victims to obtain abortions if they first report them to authorities.

South Carolina Republicans recently shot down a ban proposal after failing to garner enough Republican support.

Many Latinos could vote in November thinking about their pockets (but also about the right to abortion)

Sept.

14, 202201:44

"I really dislike him," South Carolina Republican Sen. Katrina Shealy said, lashing out at her male colleagues on the state Senate floor.

Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham, also of South Carolina, allowed exceptions under a national abortion ban proposal he introduced last week.

The proposal has virtually no chance of passing, and not even Republican leaders immediately endorsed it, reflecting how the party has struggled to address abortion with voters since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. .

Wade this summer (which offered federal protection to the procedure).

[South Carolina rejects an abortion ban.

“My daughters said, 'Dad, are you going to let this happen?'” recounted one senator]

An overwhelming majority of voters believe their state should allow abortion in specific cases, including rape, incest, or if the pregnant person's health is in danger.

Even Republicans see it as a dividing line among some voters.

Google will indicate in its searches and maps the clinics and hospitals that offer abortions in the US.

Aug. 26, 202200:27

"It's a very gray area," said Claudia Alcazar, chair of the Republican Party in Starr County along the Texas-Mexico border, which has become a new political battleground after Republicans made big gains. advances with the most conservative Hispanic voters in 2020.

She said she knows

of those who are “extreme, they never abort for any reason, period.

And then I have others that are like, 'Well, you know, it depends'

.

The promise to eliminate rapists

In Texas, Abbott said last September, "Texas will work tirelessly to make sure we take all rapists off the streets."

Opponents and critics of him said that he was out of touch with reality.

A rape hotline in Houston has received

nearly 4,800 calls

through August of this year, which is expected to exceed the number of calls in all of last year's 4,843.

Until this summer, all abortions were prohibited in Texas except in cases where they are necessary to save the life of the pregnant person. 

When asked what Abbott has done in the past year to eliminate rape, spokeswoman Renae Eze highlighted long-standing measures to end the backlog of rape kits, a law signed in June that is meant to improve coordination. and expand resources to combat sexual abuse and a task force that was formed in 2019 focused on this problem. 

[“She cannot and should not be tried”: murder accusation against Latina detained for an abortion in Texas withdrawn]


A sexual assault evidence collection kit, or rape kit, sits on a table in an exam room in Austin, Texas. Eric Gay/AP

“To prevent such heinous crimes before they happen, and to prosecute criminals to the fullest extent of the law, Governor Abbott has aggressively fought defunding the police and led bail reform efforts to prevent release of dangerous criminals,” Eze said in a statement.

More than 14,000 rape crimes have been reported in Texas

since the law went into effect last year, according to data from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

That was slightly down from the previous year and consistent with a decline in other violent crime figures statewide.

Crisis centers in Texas say the number of rape victims they have escorted to hospitals for tests is picking up since pandemic restrictions kept defenders out.

The Women's Center in Fort Worth has made more than 650 counseling visits to victims undergoing screening in the past year compared to 340 the year before, said Alisha Mathenia, deputy director of crisis services at the center.

Most sexual abuse is never reported to the police

, making available data an incomplete picture.

And about 8 out of 10 sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

[“We are seeing a lot of desperation”: Latinas denouncing the impact of the Texas abortion law]

“We're not talking about a lot of rapists walking down the street.

That's a myth,” said Democrat Donna Howard, a state representative in Austin who co-authored the bill creating Abbott's task force.

At The SAFE Alliance in Austin, where sexual assault victims can get exams and medical care at Eloise House, Senior Director Juliana Gonzales said it's admirable that Texas is working on rape prevention.

“But I also think that the state needs to face the reality that there is a need to respond to current rape cases,” she remarked. 

___

Stangle reported from Dallas.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2022-09-25

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