In the midst of all the chaos on Sunday night as the Texas legislature pushed through a series of stringent restrictions on abortion and women’s health, it was easy to miss what might have been the most inaccurate and dangerous claim of the evening: One state representative tried to argue on the State House floor that rape kits are a form of abortion.
Texas Rep. Jody Laubenberg (R) sponsored several anti-abortion measures currently making their way to the Governor’s desk. Taken together, they would shut down the vast majority of the state’s women’s health clinics and criminalize abortions after 20 weeks. But in reasoning out why she did not support an exemption for rape victims in the 20-week ban, Laubenberg betrayed a woeful lack of information on the procedures a victim of rape undergoes — namely, the “rape kit,” which is used to collect data on the assailant and in no way relates to pregnancy:
When Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, called for an exemption for women who were victims of rape and incest, Rep. Jody Laubenberg, R-Parker, explained why she felt it was unnecessary.
“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out,” she said, comparing the procedure to an abortion. “The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development.”
The remark about rape kits, which is not accurate, sparked widespread ridicule on social media sites. Laubenberg, who has difficulty debating bills, then simply rejected all proposed changes to her bill without speaking until the end of the debate.
Rape kits are used to collect DNA evidence from the bodies of rape victims; after a victim enters a hospital, staff collect bodily fluid, residue under the victim’s nails, and any blood or hair samples that could be relevant for an investigation. Rape kits are in no way equivalent to an abortion.
Though it doesn’t sound likely from her comments, Laubenberg may have meant that some hospitals administer Plan B to rape victims. Plan B stops fertilization of an egg, and is also not equivalent to an abortion — though it does at least relate to reproduction, unlike rape kits.