Davis' abortion history doesn't resonate with voters

Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera

Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ recent admission to two abortions in the 1990s will energize her core base of radical liberal supporters, the abortion-on-demand-for-any-reason-through-all-nine-months mob who catapulted Davis to national attention last summer. But it will do nothing to help erase her persona as a single-issue candidate: the Texas abortion crusader.

The average Texas voter does not vote in every city council race, mid-term election or special election; rather, this elector is a “November presidential-only” voter. However, this year voters have heard more, seen more and read more headlines than usual on the 2014 Texas gubernatorial race because of the Davis filibuster, an open governor’s seat, a female candidate at the top of the ticket, a conservative, paraplegic candidate, and a clear contrast between parties on various hot issues. The media frenzy about Davis’ “choices” thwarts her campaign’s relentless work to divert attention from the filibuster and the subject of the filibuster: abortion.

There is no mystery about Davis’ views on abortion, and her own abortions are congruent with her position and rationale. So why the news? Why the big admission? Because the non-politically inclined recognize that abortion is a big deal and is not normal — and especially not in polite political discourse.

Davis’ admission should not cause a discussion of the politics of abortion; the discussion should be how to empower parents who are expecting children with disabilities. Why not instead talk about teaching and equipping parents to welcome their children into the world and into their families? Why not ask other parents who have undergone the same challenges to come alongside parents who receive the news? Perhaps these events will open doors for reviewing the availability, funding and options of perinatal hospice care. Perhaps we will hear even more stories of the precious, too-short weeks or only moments with a newborn whose life was brief but ever so meaningful and blessed.

Davis’ stated experiences confirm what many post-abortive women feel: the emotional aftermath of abortion. Too often, the accounts of mental health problems and the extreme emotional lows after abortion are dismissed by those who profit from abortion and whose campaigns are funded by Big Abortion (Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List, NARAL, etc.).  Perhaps Davis’ story will cause some in her own party and her political backers alike to acknowledge the toll an abortion takes on a woman’s overall health and well-being. In Texas, roughly 73,000 abortions are still committed annually. The women making these tragic choices are our mothers, sisters, nieces, friends, co-workers and fellow church members, and are all around us. Knowingly or not, we interact every day with women who have chosen abortion, and probably far more public officials than just Davis have walked the path to abortion.

To stop the attempt to normalize abortion as a standard procedure, Molly White, a Republican nominee to the state House, has openly shared her story of past abortion. Unlike Davis, White has worked for decades in many countries on many continents to help women choose life. White has worked to expand resources for women so they won’t choose abortion and suffer the decades-long heartache and anguish that countless other post-abortive women endure, often alone and in silence. White has never used her abortion as a political tool; she shares her story in the context of women’s health care. Juxtapose White and her heart’s desire to encourage and support women with the Davis admission that “abortion was the answer.” Twice.

Politically, if Davis wants to win, she must redirect her campaign and focus on issues other than abortion when her extreme views on this subject are not embraced by the average American citizen and are repugnant to the average Texas voter.  More importantly, if Davis wants to truly improve the lives of the average Texan, she should champion the value of every human being, no matter his/her ability or disability or whether he/she is born or unborn. But then she would sound a lot like White or, more important, Greg Abbott.  

Melissa Conway

Director of external relations at Texas Right to Life