Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis had their most personal and substantive confrontation of the campaign in their final gubernatorial debate Tuesday night, with Abbott’s views on abortion clashing with both his opponent and a majority of Texans.
Abbott only supports abortion to save the life of a pregnant person, and during the debate was asked to explain his position of opposing abortion even in cases of rape and incest.
Abbott said victims of rape deserve “compassion and support,” and touted his office’s financial support to rape and incest survivors and survivor advocacy organizations.
“I’m pro-life, and I’m Catholic,” Abbott said. “I want to promote a culture of life that supports both the health and safety of both the woman and child both before and after birth.”
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Abbott’s views contrast with the views of the majority of Texans, according to a poll released Wednesday. The Texas Lyceum Poll, an annual non-partisan survey, found 68 percent of Texans believe that abortion should be allowed both in cases of rape and incest. Two in ten Texans said abortion should not be legal for rape victims, while six in ten self-identified Republican respondents agreed with Abbott’s stance on abortion.
The survey also found that 68 percent agreed with Abbott that an exception should be made if a “woman’s own health is seriously endangered.”
“I do not believe that the government should intrude in that most personal of decision making,” Davis said during the debate when asked about her position on restrictions on abortion.
Davis disclosed last month that she terminated two pregnancies, including one that was due to an extreme fetal anomaly. A majority of Texans, 54 percent, also believe that abortion should be allowed in cases when “there is a strong chance of a serious defect in the baby.”