Cynthia M. Allen

Regarding abortion, Davis as ‘extreme’ as Abbott

I have to agree with the The Denver Post ’s editorial endorsing Cory Gardner, challenger to pro-choice Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, that “obnoxious one-issue campaign[s]” are insulting, particularly when the issue in focus is “reproductive rights.”

To be certain, neither candidate for Texas governor could be accused of running such a campaign.

But in the case of Democrat Wendy Davis, a woman whose pink-sneaker-clad, 13-hour filibuster of a Texas bill to ban most abortions after 20 weeks, it’s difficult to avoid commenting on the issue that has been her ticket from obscurity to fame.

Especially when she derides her opponent as having extreme views on the topic.

But what are her views?

Davis explained her position on abortion when she met with the Star-Telegram Editorial Board in February: “I don’t believe that the state can appropriately articulate exceptions in a way that will really be able to capture the decisions and the challenges that women face who make a decision post-20 weeks.”

Translation: no restrictions whatsoever.

For a candidate whose party generally believes that the state is capable of articulating what it thinks is good for Americans in almost every other circumstance — from what kind of health insurance to purchase to how best to perform a math problem — it seems an odd position to take.

Moreover, it’s in stark contrast to what most “enlightened” Western nations seem to believe about the brutality of abortion the more developed the baby becomes.

In Western Europe — a bastion of liberalism that many progressive policymakers look to with admiration — abortion laws are far more restrictive than those in the U.S.

In Germany, women seeking first-trimester abortions are subject to a mandatory three-day waiting period and a counseling session. Abortions after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are forbidden except in cases of grave threat to the mother’s physical or mental health. France’s laws are similar.

Other nations like t he Netherlands, which requires a five-day wait, and the United Kingdom make abortion illegal after viability, generally considered to be between 22 and 24 weeks.

Davis’ absolutist position on abortion puts her to the left of the Netherlands, home of legalized prostitution, marijuana bars and physician-assisted suicide.

Indeed, most European nations have been able to articulate the exceptions that Davis believes are too nuanced to express.

These laws also undergird a shared belief that at some point during a woman’s pregnancy, the state has an obligation to protect the life of an unborn citizen.

Based on Davis’ response, she believes that no such obligation exists.

To be fair, I posed that exact question to Davis when our editorial board met with her this month.

She gets points for consistency; her response was rehearsed and unchanged. “I believe … that women know best and should be trusted to make this most intimate and private decision for themselves.”

I’m all for trusting women. Although it’s worth pointing out that many vocal champions of the abortion-rights movement these days — from author Merritt Tierce to Planned Parenthood sex educator Emily Letts — aren’t doing much to build trust in women’s ability to make good decisions, before or during pregnancy.

But back to Davis.

Her opponent, state Attorney General Greg Abbott, does not support abortion in cases of rape or incest (which are 1 percent and 0.5 percent of abortions, respectively, according to the Guttmacher Institute).

His perspective, he says, is derived from and is wholly consistent with the views of his Catholic faith.

Yet Davis disparages his views as extreme. (I doubt she’d feel comfortable accusing Pope Francis of the same.)

Still, I’ll stipulate that his position may be outside the mainstream. According to a May Gallup Poll, only 21 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

However, that same poll also reports that 71 percent of Americans oppose abortion or support it only in certain circumstances.

That means almost three-quarters of Americans think that there should be at least some restrictions on abortion — a position that Davis rejects.

So regardless of where one stands on this issue, it’s hard to take Davis at her word when she calls Abbott extreme. Clearly her views on abortion are every bit as outside the mainstream.