Wendy Davis Is More Moderate on Abortion than We Thought


Wendy Davis may not be the face of the pro-choice movement that we thought she was. While she did filibuster for 13 hours last year to kill an omnibus abortion bill in the Texas State Senate, she now says that in principle she would’ve supported a 20-week abortion ban, but that the specific legislation went too far.

I was so disappointed when I read this Dallas Morning News headline, “Wendy Davis backs abortion ban that defers to women.” But as with many things, once I read her actual quotes, her views seem less dire than the title would have you believe. Instead, her opinion is as follows:

Davis said she could have supported a bill that contained only a 20-week ban, but the law’s restrictions on clinics and doctors have greatly curtailed access to the procedure in parts of Texas.
“It was the least objectionable,” she said. “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.”

So, she still believes that the Texas bill limited abortion for far too many women. That’s a relief. But it’s not very clear why she would still let a 20-week ban go through, when doing so would take the decision out of the hands of a woman and her doctor.

She also clarifies why she could oppose an abortion ban after 20 weeks. According to CBS:

She noted that abortions after 20 weeks are rare and are usually obtained by women facing serious health risks or in cases of fetal abnormalities. “I would line up with most people in Texas who would prefer that that’s not something that happens outside of those two arenas,” she said.

Okay, Davis still seems to support abortion after 20 weeks when it comes to health risks. Again, not as bad as the headline makes it sound. Davis’ view is also a hell a lot of more than we can say about her Republican opponent, Greg Abbott. As Andrea Grimes, a reproductive rights reporter who is based in Austin has written, what the gubernatorial candidate said is actually standard for many liberal Texans.

Davis is still behind Abbott in the polls, especially after the sexist attacks she endured for fudging parts of her biography, so it would stand to reason that she would take some moderate positions to close the gap between them. To get a taste of her general strategy going forward: on the one hand, she just came out in favor of open carry laws, and of decriminalizing marijuana (like Rick Perry recently did), but also blasted Abbott for continuing to defend Texas’ ban on gay marriage.

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