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Kamala Harris says Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's comments on rape were 'fueled with not only arrogance but bravado'

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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a campaign event for California Gov. Gavin Newsom at the IBEW-NECA Joint Apprenticeship Training Center in San Leandro, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021.
Vice President Kamala Harris during a campaign event for Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Wednesday. Carolyn Kaster/AP
  • Kamala Harris blasted Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas for saying he would "eliminate all rapists."

  • Texas' strict new abortion law has no exceptions for rape or incest.

  • Harris said his comments "were fueled with not only arrogance but bravado."

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Vice President Kamala Harris excoriated Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas for saying that he would "eliminate all rapists" in response to a question about how rape victims would fare under the state's strict new abortion law.

"To arrogantly dismiss concerns about rape survivors and to speak the words that were empty words, that were false words, that were fueled with not only arrogance but bravado, that is not who we want in our leaders," Harris said at a campaign event for Gov. Gavin Newsom in San Leandro, California, on Wednesday. "We want in our leaders someone like Gavin Newsom, who always speaks the truth."

At a Tuesday event, Abbott fielded a question about rape victims being forced to carry pregnancies caused by their rapists to term under Texas' strict new abortion law, which prohibits the procedure in the first term after six weeks and has no exceptions for rape or incest.

Abbott said the law still provided rape victims "at least six weeks" to get an abortion, which is an inaccurate representation of how gestational development works. The law defines pregnancy as beginning after a person's last menstrual period, not the date of conception, meaning many people don't know they're pregnant at all before six weeks.

He then said that he and other Texas leaders would solve the problem of rape altogether by "eliminating all rapists."

"Let's make something very clear: Rape is a crime," Abbott said while signing a GOP election-reform bill into law. "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 new law bans abortion after the point at which a "heartbeat" can be detected, which usually occurs at about six weeks of pregnancy. But many medical professionals told NPR that the activity that can be detected at that stage is not a heartbeat in which the organ's valves open and close but electrical activity.

The law's unusual design outsources the enforcement of the ban to private citizens, enabling them to sue abortion providers and those who "aid and abet" in abortion procedures and receive up to $10,000 in damages.

The US Supreme Court allowed the law to stay in place in a September 1 decision, leaving providers in the state unable to perform abortions while challenges to the law proceed in the lower courts.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki also hit back at Abbott's comments on Wednesday, saying that while there would be bipartisan support for the idea, "there has never in history of the country and the world been any leader who's ever been able to eliminate rape, eliminate rapists from our streets."

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