Standing before his anti-abortion cadre, Gov. Rick Perry took the opportunity to bash Sen. Wendy Davis and the hundreds of Texas citizens who came to the Capitol to protest a dead (for now) abortion bill. As everyone with an Internet connection knows, Davis successfully launched an epic 13-hour filibuster earlier this week, killing a bill that would impose the harshest restrictions on abortion in Texas.
In a speech given during the National Right to Life
convention held in Dallas today, the conservative Republican called the behavior of organized, passionate pro-choice activists, who came by the hundreds and stayed until hours after midnight to protest the bill, “unruly.
" And with a straight face, Perry said he was, “all about honest, open debate.”
“[P]arliamentary tactics are certainly nothing new, but what we witnessed Tuesday was nothing more than the hijacking of the democratic process,” said Perry. “This is simply too important a cause to allow the unruly actions of a few to stand in its way.”
Pro-choice advocates before engaging in what Gov. Rick Perry described as "unruly actions," and what many call "freedom of expression." Photo by Mary Tuma
Parliamentary tactics are nothing new in Texas, indeed. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s suspension of a two-thirds majority-voting rule during special session erodes Democratic power in the Senate, a convenient maneuver to push through anti-abortion legislation
that failed to advance during the regular session. And as for honesty and "hijacking" the democratic process – some Senate lawmakers, including Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), allege Perry’s party manipulated the time stamp on the final vote to work in their favor, sparking a petition to investigate
the serious charges of misconduct.
The governor then managed to wrangle and chastise Davis in his anti-abortion narrative:
“Who are we to say that children born into the worst of circumstances can't grow to live successful lives? In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances, the daughter of a single mother and a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It's just unfortunate that she 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.”
Just for fun, let’s unpack this a bit. First, Davis was allowed the choice
to have her child – if Perry gets his way any other option is off the table or severely limited, which could mean forced pregnancy or unregulated back-alley abortions, say reproductive health groups – which doesn't seem like a very safe way to protect the "precious life" of a woman. Second, she was allowed reproductive choice
in general largely due to Planned Parenthood, which served as her only source of healthcare as a poor, uninsured Forth Worth teenager, information disclosed during her filibuster – it was my “medical home,” said Davis on the Senate floor. But under Perry’s decision last year to exclude the service provider
from the Medicaid-based Women’s Health Program, that “medical home” is out of reach for today’s future Ivy League, Senate-filibustering Wendy Davis-types. Since Planned Parenthood was the dominant provider, the WHP rule shut out access to basic services like cancer screenings and contraception to nearly 50,000 low-income Texas women – a measure that will likely increase unplanned pregnancies and lead to that grim “worst of circumstances,” for the state’s women.
It seems like in Perry’s Texas, a young Wendy Davis wouldn’t stand much of a chance, no matter her potential.
Davis had some words of her own
. In a retort she wrote, “
Rick Perry’s statement is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds. They are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view. Our governor should reflect our Texas values. Sadly, Gov. Perry fails that test.”
While Perry is set to revive the controversial bill during another special session
starting July 1, its demise and overwhelming opposition from citizens this week proved it will certainly face an uphill battle, at least in the court of public opinion. Later in his speech, Perry said, "And just remember: the louder the opposition screams, the more we know we're doing something right." By that logic, it appears Perry has never been more right.