Governor’s Race Issue: Abortion

Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott
Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott. (AP Photos)

Greg Abbott

  • As Texas Attorney General, Abbott has defended the 2013 abortion laws in court. Most recently, when a federal judge ruled a requirement for abortion clinics to meet ambulatory surgical center standards, Abbott immediately filed an appeal. In that appeal, Abbott wrote the law is not an undue burden for women seeking abortion. He argued the vast majority of Texas women live within 150 miles of a clinic, which Abbott argued is a manageable distance.
  • Abbott’s opponent, Sen. Wendy Davis has argued that he is opposed to all abortions, including in the case of rape or incest. Abbott has not publicly stated that belief.
  • Greg Abbott’s official policy positions on his website do not include anything about abortion, though there are calls for more funding to women’s health.
  • KXAN’s Josh Hinkle asked General Abbott about abortion and whether Texas officials will continue to make that a focus:

Josh Hinkle: Is this going to be a subject that will be keep playing out in the next session or are there other important topics you feel lawmakers need to focus on?

Greg Abbott: I am going to have the state focus on the issues that are in my blueprint for the next generation. That focuses on keeping Texas #1 for jobs, building the roads we need for a growing state, improving education, to be ranked #1 and securing our border.

Josh Hinkle: But you can’t forget the fact that abortion restrictions were such a big part of last session and the special sessions that followed.

Greg Abbott: Those issues will continue to play out in the courts over the next year or so. As a result we will focus on the issues that will keep our economy growing and keep our families safe.

Wendy Davis

  • Davis rocketed to national attention during the 2013 legislative session when she led an 11-hour filibuster against several new abortion laws. The bill failed in the final hours of that special session, but a month later lawmakers passed the bill and Governor Perry signed it into law. However, despite her opposition to the abortion bills, Davis’ view on abortion is nuanced.
  • While Davis argued against the Texas abortion laws, she told the Dallas Morning News she could support one provision of the law: a ban on abortions after 20 weeks or 5 months calling it the “least objectable.” Davis said less than .5% of abortions took place after 20 weeks. Davis, however, said the new law didn’t give enough “deference” to women and their doctors for what qualified as a genetic fetal abnormalities and threats to a woman’s health.
  • Twice, Davis ended pregnancies due to medical concerns: the first, in 1994, due to an ectopic or “tubal” pregnancy, which would’ve been fatal to both Davis and the child. In her memoir, Davis said that procedure is considered abortion under Texas law. Davis’ memoir also described the procedure in 1996, when doctors realized Davis’ unborn child had a rare disorder that would’ve likely been fatal or completely debilitating for the child.
  • She talked about the loss with KXAN’s Josh Hinkle:

Josh Hinkle: Was that something you had to discuss with your family? You know I am going to be sharing a lot but there is an important reason for this.

Wendy Davis: I did talk with them ahead of time, including my former husband, to let them know that I decided to share this, and to help them understand why it was important that other people who are struggling with the same, very difficult decisions, that my family confronted, need to know that they are not alone.

Josh Hinkle: You had that in your head obviously whenever you were on the floor doing that filibuster against the abortion restrictions. Why not bring it up to this?

Wendy Davis: I thought about it and I talked a little bit about that in the book, but I knew that if I did, it would make the day about me, and the day needed to be about the voices that had been silenced, the thousands of men and women across the state who had been told that their testimony was repetitive and who were not heard. It was about giving voice to them.

Josh Hinkle: Has it been difficult to you known not necessarily distinct yourself form that issue but move beyond just being a one issue candidate?

Wendy Davis: I wanted to make sure as I put my foot on this campaign journey that people understood the whole picture of me, that I have a long and strong history of fighting for our schools and to make sure that children can tell the same story that I can tell that they grew up in a state that partnered with them and believed in them that if they would work hard, they could become anything that they dream.

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