Texas contenders Greg Abbott, Beto O’Rourke on abortion ahead of 2022 midterms
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott squared off in a debate against Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat, on Friday
They addressed topics including abortion, the migrant issue, and high inflation rates
Here is what the two candidates said on abortion and where Texas abortion laws currently stand
Greg Abbott, a Republican running for governor of Texas who also holds office currently, and Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat, squared off in the first and most likely only debate of the state's governor's race this year on Friday.
The debate was held at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg.
Also read: Greg Abbott-Beto O’Rourke debate: Key points
O'Rourke had the opportunity to narrow the polling gap between him and Abbott during the debate. With Abbott leading O'Rourke by more than 5 percentage points in most surveys, Texas voters have shown a preference for him.
O'Rourke, who narrowly defeated Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 senate election and made a fleeting run for the presidency in 2020, has garnered widespread attention thanks to the race. Democrats are optimistic that O'Rourke can unseat the governor's mansion due to his name popularity and fiery attitude.
The discussion addressed topics including abortion, the migrant issue, and high inflation rates that have come up in other difficult midterm contests.
When the topic of abortion came up O'Rourke was asked if he would support any abortion restrictions. After the Supreme Court overturned the right to an abortion in a judgement in June, he urged for Roe v. Wade to be reinstated in his response.
"That limit was decided in 1973," O’Rourke said. "I want us to return to that."
Texas, according to O'Rourke, has had the highest rate of female rape. O'Rourke declared, "This is an attack on women." When PolitiFact Texas investigated a related claim, it discovered that Texas reported more rape offences in 2020 than other states did, based on point-in-time FBI data. He said that Abbott’s current protections are insufficient for sexual assault survivors.
Also read: In Texas’ red heart, an Uvalde blue vein
Abbott cited his adopted daughter, Audrey Abbott while outlining his anti-abortion beliefs and emphasizing his Catholic faith.
“I’ve seen firsthand the power that adoption can have, and it just further strengthened my belief in the power of giving life to every child possible,” Abbott said.
“I want others to be able to have that same sense of joy,” Abbott added.
In most cases, abortion is prohibited in Texas. Abortion is illegal in all circumstances unless the mother's life is in danger, according to a trigger law that went into effect on August 25, 2022.
Abortion in Texas is prohibited after an electric embryonic cardiac activity is identified as of September 1, 2021. Abortion is illegal in Texas if there is embryonic cardiac activity, which can start as early as 5 or 6 weeks following the first day of the woman's last period.
Elective abortions were previously permitted up to 20 weeks after fertilisation. Along with laws enacted by the Texas Legislature, local governments have also made anti-abortion initiatives, with 30 Texas localities outlawing the procedure.
Abortion providers referred to Senate Bill 8 when it was first announced as a de facto ban on abortions since it covers abortions up until the point at which "cardiac activity" in the embryo can be identified, which is before most women are aware that they are pregnant. However, calling the restriction on abortions based on cardiac activity (as opposed to viability) "de facto" is erroneous because it directly forbids most abortions.
Abortions after six weeks are only permitted in cases of a medical emergency. Pregnancies brought on by rape or incest are not exempt from the legislation, albeit they may be terminated before heart activity is detected. The only way to enforce the law is through civil lawsuits.
There is a lot of legal debate around SB 8's constitutionality. Several legal disputes were still proceeding in state and federal courts as of September 2021.
Medicine abortions are only allowed for up to seven weeks as of December 2021, and both the patient's examination and the administration of the medication must take place in person.
Following the Supreme Court's judgement in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which reversed the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and gave the states the choice to criminalise abortion, abortion became illegal in Texas as of July 24, 2022. In the event that Roe v. Wade was reversed, Texas had a trigger law in place that would immediately outlaw all abortions in the state for 30 days.