A Texas Republican state representative pushing legislation that would enact one of the nation’s strictest bans on abortion claimed in floor debate Sunday night that exceptions for the victims of rape and incest are not needed because emergency rooms offer rape kits that “basically clean her out.”
Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R). Official photo.
“If a woman is raped… We have hospital emergency rooms,” Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R) insisted. “We have funded what’s called rape kits that will help the woman, basically clean her out. And then hopefully that will alleviate that.”
She was responding to a Democratic lawmaker who asked if she feels it is fair to require that rape victims in El Paso travel over 500 miles to San Antonio — which is where the nearest clinic would be located if Laubenberg’s bill becomes law — just to obtain an abortion.
Laubenberg’s bill would ban all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and force all but five of the state’s abortion clinics to close in 2014 by requiring them to adhere to standards for ambulatory surgical centers, which medical professionals say is unnecessary.
She refused to entertain any further amendments following her comments about rape kits. Instead of standing to defend her bill, Laubenberg left the House floor and informed the speaker that she respectfully disagreed with everything that might follow, even though many of the pending amendments were based on the medical community’s substantive concerns about her bill.
The conversation that led to Laubenberg’s astonishing comment on rape kits began when Democrats questioned why she opposed an amendment by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D), who proposed adding an exception to the abortion ban for the victims of rape and incest. Thompson pulled no punches while speaking in favor of her amendment, waiving a coat hanger as she blasted Republicans for ignoring the needs of rape victims.
“We’re not living under Sharia law!” she yelled. “We’re living under democracy! The United States of America law. The Texas law! And women have a right not to be violated by violent acts of conduct like this!”
The marathon debate session began just after 6 p.m. CST and ran well into the next morning. Republicans voted to cut off debate and pass the measure shortly after 4 a.m., then moved forward with final passage on third reading several hours later.
It now heads to the Texas Senate for reconciliation, where Democrats hope their attempt at delaying the process has bought enough time to stage a filibuster that will run out the clock on the special session, which ends Tuesday at midnight.
This video is from the Texas Legislature online, aired Sunday, June 23, 2013.
This video is from the Texas Legislature online, aired Sunday, June 24, 2013.
David Edwards contributed to this article.
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Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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