Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has “consistently” praised the “social policies” of the state of Texas during his “frequently” chats with Greg Abbott, the Texas governor said Thursday, in an interview focused on his state’s landmark abortion ban.
Abbott joined CNBC on Thursday to push back against speculation that the new law would harm the state’s business-friendly image, saying its lax regulations aren’t the only thing attracting employers.
“Candidly, not only do they like the business environment, but you need to understand there’s a lot of businesses and a lot of Americans who like the social positions that the state of Texas is taking,” Abbott said.
The interview followed publication of a Forbes article saying two-thirds of college-educated workers would avoid the state due to its new law prohibiting abortion after six weeks.
Pressed on whether he meant the new abortion law specifically—as well as the state’s controversial voting restrictions—are attracting new companies, Abbott said they are, adding that the policies are responsible, in fact, for “accelerating the process of businesses coming to Texas.”
As evidence, Abbott went on to describe Musk’s personal political views, as relayed to him in what he described as a recurring conversation:
“This is not slowing down businesses coming to the state of Texas. In fact, it is accelerating the process of businesses coming to Texas, particularly, Morgan—interestingly—they are leaving the very liberal state of California. And I gotta tell you, whether it be Elon Musk, who I talk to frequently—Elon had to get out of California because, in part, of the social policies in California. And Elon consistently tells me he likes the social policies in the state of Texas.”
Musk reacted to the interview hours later—but not to confirm or deny Abbott’s characterization.
“In general, I believe government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness,” Musk tweeted, adding: “That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics.”
Musk’s stance on the Texas law is indecipherable from the lone tweet, except to make clear that he’d rather avoid the topic.
Tesla does not allow questions from reporters. SpaceX could not be reached for comment.
Texas’ latest anti-abortion law, known as SB 8, is the most draconian in the country. It’s widely described as being, in practice, a de facto ban on abortion, due to the time constraints placed on the people who might wish to undergo the procedure.
Effectively, the law prohibits doctors from performing an abortion on adults and minors as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Opponents and medical experts say an overwhelming majority of women seeking the procedure would fall outside this timeframe. A variety of medical issues, they note, including complications from birth control and erratic menstruation, can cause people to go unaware of a pregnancy for longer than six weeks.
Doctors have criticized the bill’s reliance on medical myth, saying perceived signs of cardiac activity are a deceptive yardstick for cutting off abortion as an option. Several states, including Texas, have based their abortion restrictions on what politicians refer to as a “detectable fetal heartbeat.” At six weeks pregnant, however, there is no fetus, and the embryo in its place has, definitionally, no heart.
The law is particularly callous toward sexual assault survivors. The law makes no allowances for anyone who is forced into a pregnancy by rape—not even if the survivor is a minor and the rapist a blood relative.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Wednesday refused to block the law.
One of the more unprecedented aspects of SB 8 is a provision that encourages Texans to report anyone they suspect of “aiding and abetting” an abortion after the six-week mark. It allows anyone in the state to sue anyone tangentially involved in an abortion, up to and including family members who lend support, for at least $10,000.
“Any Texan can now be sued if they are so much as suspected of having helped a pregnant person seeking abortion care after about 6 weeks in pregnancy,” said NARAL, a nonprofit that opposes abortion restrictions. “This includes clergy members or counselors, abortion funds that assist someone in paying for abortion care, and even someone who drives a patient to their appointment—including family members, friends, and rideshare drivers.”