FACT CHECK: ‘Rape is Always Rape,’ New Van de Putte ad targets Patrick

A new ad from Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Leticia Van de Putte goes after her Republican opponent Dan Patrick on issues including abortion in a new TV ad.
A new ad from Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Leticia Van de Putte goes after her Republican opponent Dan Patrick on issues including abortion in a new TV ad.

AUSTIN (KXAN) – A new ad from Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Leticia Van de Putte goes after her opponent, Republican candidate Dan Patrick, regarding abortion and rape issues.

Misleading: The ad starts with a quote from State Senator Dan Patrick “Now I understand there’s some people that have a difference of opinion on rape or incest,” Sen. Patrick said during a debate. The narration says: “No, rape is always rape”.

A spokesperson for State Senator Van de Putte’s campaign contends this clip shows Sen. Patrick seems to belittle the issue of rape and incest. It leaves out the context that Sen. Patrick was talking about abortion in this comment.

The way the ad presents this section is misleading. The way the claim is presented could leave the viewer with the impression that Sen. Patrick is questioning rape or incest in and of themselves. However, the comments were made specifically in the context of abortion.

“We can negotiate and compromise on lots of issues. But you either protect life or you don’t,” said Patrick in a September 29 debate. “And when I hear Democrats talking about how conservative Republicans don’t respect women, the one way you respect women is to protect little girls in the womb. Now, I understand that some people have a difference of opinion on rape or incest, but that child is still born in the image of God, and is still a living human being.”

Mostly True: “But Dan Patrick would deny victims of rape any options at all” / No access to abortion in cases of rape or incest

When asked about abortions in the cases of rape and incest, Patrick left the door open to one option saying, “the only exception, the only exception would be if the life of the mother was truly in danger.”

For this claim, let’s first take another look at Sen. Patrick’s stance on abortion. During a January debate in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor, Sen. Patrick said he would only support abortion in cases where the mother’s life is in danger.

“Do you believe that a woman should be able to choose abortion in cases of rape or incest? And secondly what should the state do to help low income women support themselves while they are pregnant and new mothers,” asked Peggy Fikac, a moderator for the debate and Austin bureau chief with the San Antonio Express-News.

“Once again, it is a life and we’re born in the image of God. You know, I tell folks when I speak all the time: ‘I’m a Christian first, a conservative second, and a Republican third.’ And you don’t check those values and beliefs at the door, no matter the circumstance,” said Sen. Patrick, when it was his turn to respond to the question. “The only exception, the only exception would be if the life of the mother was truly in danger for that doctor and that family to make that decision of the mother and the baby. But that is rare, and that has to be that decision. But you always protect life in every situation.”


Misleading: “And he voted against funding to test the backlog of rape kits, allowing rapists to walk free.”

State Senator Van de Putte’s campaign is using Sen. Patrick’s vote against the state budget bill as a whole to make this claim. The budget included funding for testing rape kits. Still, the state budget includes a wide variety of expenses. The campaign for Sen. Van de Putte could not provide us any evidence that Sen. Patrick opposed the funding for rape kit testing, other than his vote on the entire state budget.

The claim can also create an incorrect perception. Sen. Patrick voted for the bill that established certain standards for rape kit testing.

The general budget bill also passed, with the funding for rape kit testing. So the claim that Sen. Patrick’s vote is allowing rapists to walk free does not hold up. The bill passed, despite Sen. Patrick’s vote.
Opinion: “These are not minor differences. Dan Patrick is just too dangerous.”

The ad ends with a promise from Sen. Van de Putte: “I’m Leticia Van de Putte. We need to respect women and their families. As lieutenant governor, I’ll fight for you.”


The Dan Patrick campaign issued this statement:

Van de Putte’s job-killing policies are simply wrong for Texas. She is trailing in the polls and desperately wants to distract voters from her liberal record. She is a pro-abortion, pro-amnesty, anti-business candidate that will damage Texas’ successes. Sen. Patrick has stood by his conservative principles and strong pro-business record that continue to keep Texas the leader in job creation. He has been endorsed by more business associations than his opponent, has led the charge in reforming education and he is the only candidate that will make sure our border is secure. These are the issues our fellow Texans are concerned about. – Alejandro Garcia, Communications Director

The Leticia Van de Putte campaign issued this statement:

Shame on Dan Patrick. He turned his back on rape survivors when Texas had a massive backlog of rape kits. His reckless words and actions threaten the progress Texas women have made. Dan Patrick is dangerous for women, and wrong for Texas.


As a pharmacist, I’ve listened to women across the prescription counter. I’ve seen desperation in the eyes of women following rape. As a legislator, I have fought for survivors of human and sex trafficking. I know that rape is always rape.


As a mother and grandmother, I love the women in my life too much to let Dan’s words and actions take us back in time. Women have come too far. As Lieutenant Governor, women and their families can trust that I will fight for them. – Leticia Van de Putte


Dan Patrick

  • Voted for the abortion restrictions bill HB 2
  • Only supports abortion when the mom’s life is in danger

Leticia Van de Putte

  • Voted against the abortion restrictions in HB 2
  • Sen. Van de Putte says she stood with the abortion ban after 20 weeks, but wanted exemptions for rape and incest.


The candidates on abortion restrictions

The candidate’s positions on the abortion restrictions passed in Texas under HB 2 also provide insight into their views on the issue. Both candidates released statements after a recent Supreme Court action.

“We need to respect Texas women and their families,” said Sen. Van de Putte in a statement after a recent action from the Supreme Court. “HB 2 limits access to health care and that is never the responsible answer. The ruling by the Supreme Court is an important preliminary step in the right direction. Today, we renew the fight to expand, rather than limit, access to women’s health care in Texas.”

Sen. Van de Putte has also said she wants “zero” abortions. She suggests doing this by making abortions unnecessary. Sen. Van de Putte points to efforts such as ensuring access to contraception.

“As the author of the Sonogram Bill and co-author of House Bill 2, I am very disappointed to hear that the Supreme Court is delaying the implementation of HB 2,” Sen. Patrick said in a statement. “Women deserve the best quality care should they choose to get an abortion. Sadly, Planned Parenthood is more interested in protecting their bottom line than providing quality health care for women.

In both campaigns, the candidates often mention their faith when talking about this issue.

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