Rick Perry Uses Wendy Davis’ Life Story To Mansplain His Anti-Choice Agenda


Many are still applauding Texas lawmaker Wendy Davisheroic filibuster that kept a piece of sweeping anti-choice legislation from effectively outlawing abortion in most of the state. But not Texas governor Rick Perry, who is currently re-grouping by calling another special session of the state senate, speaking at the National Right To Life conference, and appropriating Wendy Davis’ own life story to mansplain why no woman should have the right to choose what happens to her own body.

Really? Yes, of course. Speaking at the NLRC earlier today, Rick Perry used certain details of Davis’ life story in the worst, most offensive, most ad hominem way possible:

“In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.”

Translation: Wendy Davis should “learn from her own example” and oppose abortion rights because she accomplished a lot despite coming from a disadvantaged background, and because she chose not to have an abortion herself. Excuse me?

First, that assumes that Wendy Davis (and Wendy Davis’ mother) even wanted abortions in the first place. Abortion was legal when Davis got pregnant at age 18. The fact that she chose to carry her pregnancy to term does absolutely nothing to discredit the pro-choice movement, since the pro-choice movement is about, you know, choices. One of which is “having a baby.”

He’s also trying to discredit her position on the grounds that some women have abortions because they feel they won’t be able to provide their kids with the support they need in order to succeed in life; he’s saying that doesn’t matter, because look at them bootstraps! Wendy Davis went to Harvard, therefore any child of a teen mother could go to Harvard! This is just a rhetorical extension of the “what if your hypothetical child grows up to cure cancer?” argument, which is easily countered with “what if your child grows up to be a serial killer?” Mashed up with the conservative myth that anyone born in America can succeed if they are willing to work hard, of course.

But even if it was possible for every motivated person to rise from a difficult upbringing to achieve great things, it would still be the pregnant woman’s choice whether she wants to introduce a child into those difficult circumstances, or at all. Women have plenty of reasons for ending their pregnancies, not limited to but including being single, being poor, being young, being emotionally ill-equipped, and simply not wanting children at the moment. (One need not be poor to want an abortion, although it’s true that anti-choice measures tend to target the most vulnerable women.) For Rick Perry, a rich white guy, to tell the unwed teen girls of the world that they should be forced to raise children in poverty because it worked out really well for one person, is fucked up in a million and one ways.

And this goes without saying, but bringing Wendy Davis’ own life story into it to try to condescend to her that “she should know better” is just the height of offensive. Luckily for the pro-choice movement, his remarks only served to further expose the fact that anti-choice rhetoric has zero legs to stand on.

(Via ThinkProgress)

Photo: WENN

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    • Scarlettmer

      He also said in this speech: “[T]he louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done.” Just like every other rapist, serial killer and terrorist.

      • Anonachocolatemousse

        I think I just vomited all over my keyboard. Politicians man.

    • Anonachocolatemousse

      As a woman I applaud Wendy Davis and Rick Perry makes me sad. As a woman who very, very much wants a baby I applaud Wendy Davis and Rick Perry makes me sad. As a woman who believes in Christ, I applaud Wendy Davis and Rick Perry makes me sad. Okay I think you get it.

      I believe in choice and children. The biggest thing that is stopping the pro-life from having a true stand is the pure fact that once a baby is born, you’re on YOUR OWN. What about those bootstraps baby? Oh you don’t have teeth and can’t walk yet? Too bad you need to learn to work hard and all your problems will go away. Just channel the power of the American dream! It makes me so angry as a human being and a woman.

      My views on life and what people should be able to have access to/choose to do have changed as I’ve grown. I still think life is a very precious thing and wouldn’t choose abortion for myself, but who I am to deny that to another woman? It is not my job to tell a woman to NOT get an abortion just the same as it’s not another woman’s (or man’s) job to tell me TO get an abortion.

      At the end of the day this bill and several others that have been passed, are more about violating the right of a woman to the choice of her health than anything else. A republican man feels he has more right to my body than I do, no he does not. Wendy’s stand (literally) shows these men (and sometimes women, Laubenberg anyone?) that they should not be able to take away a woman’s right to her own body. My vagina, womb, ovaries and breasts do not belong to you Rick Perry!

      Sorry for the rant, I’m just so tired of this BS.

    • MR

      Even the Republican Party in this State still doesn’t get it. Now that’s what’s really scary.