Governor’s slap at Wendy Davis treads a thin political line

Posted Thursday, Jun. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Speaking to a right-to-life group Friday about the abortion debate in the Texas Legislature, Gov. Rick Perry said Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth “hasn’t learned from her own example: that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential; that every life is precious.”

Watch it, governor. You know your mouth has gotten you into a lot of trouble in the past and it easily could again. Personal examples are not what this debate is about.

Davis, a Democrat, talked for 11 hours on the Senate floor Tuesday to filibuster a bill carrying enhanced restrictions on abortion procedures and providers. Republican Perry is a strong backer of the bill.

Davis gained nationwide notoriety during her filibuster, inspiring a “#StandWithWendy” surge in social media messaging.

Her stand and the attention it has brought her has made her a Democratic star, a rumored candidate for higher officer and a target for Republicans.

Personal politics can be very effective against opponents, but there’s a fine line between good politics and bad taste.

Davis talks often about having been a divorced, single mother at age 19. She worked two jobs while raising a daughter, but she also completed her education and went on to graduate with honors from Harvard Law School.

Before being elected to the Senate in 2008, she served on the Fort Worth City Council.

After his speech to the 2013 National Right to Life Convention at the DFW Hyatt Regency Hotel, Perry said his reference was to Davis’ own upbringing after being “born into difficult circumstances.”

“What if her mom had said, ‘I just can’t do this. I just don’t want to do this’?” the governor asked, implying that her mother might have decided to get an abortion and Davis would not have grown up to be a success.

Don’t go there, governor. Don’t turn this into a discussion about specific individuals and their decisions about abortion.

Many women from “difficult circumstances” decide every day against abortion. The Legislature’s discussion should continue to be about those who opt for abortion in Texas and the terms and conditions under which they may do so.

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