by Mary Tuma
Incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson showcased their radical views earlier this week during a televised debate via KERA news. The debate kicked off with a question about Marlise Munoz, the brain-dead pregnant woman who was eventually removed from life support on Sunday after a legal battle that pitted anti-abortion activists, legislators and the hospital against the wishes of her family. (Well, that's one way to start a debate...)
While a hotly controversial topic, the situation is pretty irrelevant to their actual duties as lite guv. Their answers (all but Staples said the final decision was wrong) did give us a preview of how they'd response to a direct question on abortion. Any doubts were swiftly cleared up when the four candidates were asked by the debate moderator, "Should a woman choose an abortion in case of rape or incest? And what can the state do to help low-income women who are pregnant?" No candidate agreed a woman should be given an exception:
Screen Shot via KERA
Staples: “I believe that abortion should never be used as a form of birth control. I think as a society we need to promote the culture of life and I think our laws should reflect that [...] and in extreme cases where a mother’s life is in danger then you can have a conversation about that circumstance, but as a matter of law we need to promote life [...]" (He later clarified he opposed exceptions for rape or incest.)
Dewhurst: “I am strongly pro-life [...] I believe strongly that the life of the mother has to be protected. That’s why if there’s a question about the life of the mother, I am supportive [...] but I have a problem with abortion being used as a birth control method."
Patterson: My answer is that either it is life or it’s not. To say that we have an unborn child that is the result of a rape and somehow that’s less life-like or inferior to the life that was through a natural non-catastrophic event like that doesn’t make any sense. It's either life or not life. I do not support exceptions for rape or incest [...] they are not legitimate exceptions in my opinion."
Patrick: "It is a life and we are born in the image of God [...] The only exception, the only exception, would be if the life of the mother is truly endangered for that doctor and that family to make that decision of the mother and the baby but that is rare [...] you always protect life in every situation [...] In those rare circumstances where the life of the mother is on the line, most mothers say let my baby live [...]"
Okay, aside from the sheer radicalism of their statements and the erroneous equivalency of birth control and abortion oft-peddled by the anti-abortion right (because, sure, they're the exact same thing) the true Boneheaded-ness comes when you juxtapose their extremist conservative views on abortion with their vehement defense for Creationism to be taught in public schools. (All candidates support it, and Patrick goes so far to say, "We teach kids in church on Sunday about Jesus. On school, on Monday, they can’t talk about Jesus. They must be confused.") So, in effect, all four candidates are backing something unconstitutional while driving a completely legal health service into oblivion. Here's a suggestion for the next question they should be asked: "What does constitutional mean to you?"