Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, who garnered national attention for her opposition to a 20-week abortion ban in the state, is now making headlines again by saying she might support such a ban in some instances.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, suggested in a Feb. 12 statement that Davis's apparent change in stance gives her “the appearance of moving with” pro-life voters in Texas “while at the same time maintaining abortion as her ‘sacred ground’.”
In September 2013, Davis gained national attention in her role as state senator after performing a nearly 11-hour filibuster against a Texas bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks into pregnancy and require abortion clinics to meet the same health and safety standards as other surgical clinics.
A month after the filibuster, she announced that she would be running for governor of Texas in the 2014 election.
On Feb. 11, Davis told the Dallas Morning News that she found the 20-week ban “the least objectionable” part of the bill she had filibustered.
“I would have and could have voted to allow that to go through, if I felt like we had tightly defined the ability for a woman and a doctor to be making this decision together and not have the Legislature get too deep in the weeds of how we would describe when that was appropriate,” she added.
Davis’ remarks drew criticism from both sides of the political spectrum, along with accusations that she was using vague answers in an attempt to please everyone.
Author Tarra Culp-Ressler, writing for progressive news source ThinkProgress, said in a Feb. 13 article that “Davis’ stance simply doesn’t make sense.”
Culp-Ressler argued that Davis’ statements advocating that the law “give deference” to women contemplating an abortion would be “directly undermined by the enactment of a ban.”
“Politically, however, Davis’ stance is all too understandable,” Ressler continued, noting that opposing 20-week bans is vastly unpopular in Texas, particularly after the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who last year was convicted of murdering babies after they had survived his late-term abortion attempts.
Dannenfelser called Davis' move an act of “political desperation.”
“National and Texas-based polling shows Wendy Davis’ extreme abortion position is repellant to voters, including women, young people, and Hispanics,” Dannenfelser said. “Most Americans simply can’t stomach the brutality of late abortion and are moving towards compassionate, common ground limits.”