Wendy Davis: Feet of clay in pink jogging shoes
I was one of thousands of women across the country last year who cheered the filibuster of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis against a restrictive new anti-abortion law. Thirteen courageous hours, standing up for the rights of women. It was electric.
But the spark is gone. In the months since, chinks have appeared in her rags-to-riches biography. She was 21, not 19, when she got divorced. She only lived in a trailer for a few months. Her second husband financed the majority of her schooling and took care of the kids while she attended Harvard Law School. Then, according to one source, she left him the day after he made the last tuition payment.
Okay, so maybe she fudged a bit on those details. Who hasn’t burnished a résumé here and there, now and then.
Then it came out that she supports expanding gun rights in Texas. To include “open carry.” How very Texas of her. How very un-Democratic. How politically expedient.
Finally, in a recent interview with The Dallas Morning News, she revealed that she’s not so pro-choice after all. She would have supported that bill she filibustered if … well, I’m not quite sure if what. I’ve read the story several times and I’m still not sure I understand her position:
Davis, a Fort Worth senator and the likely Democratic nominee for governor, told The Dallas Morning News’ editorial board that less than one-half of 1 percent of Texas abortions occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most of those were in cases where fetal abnormalities were evident or there were grave risks to the health of the woman …
But the Democrat said the state’s new abortion law didn’t give priority to women in those circumstances. The law allows for exceptions for fetal abnormalities and a threat to the woman’s life, but Davis said those didn’t go far enough.
“My concern, even in the way the 20-week ban was written in this particular bill, was that it didn’t give enough deference between a woman and her doctor making this difficult decision, and instead tried to legislatively define what it was,” Davis said …
Davis said she could have supported a bill that contained only a 20-week ban, but the law’s restrictions on clinics and doctors have greatly curtailed access to the procedure in parts of Texas.
Maybe Davis knew what she meant but didn’t say it very well. Or maybe she said what she meant but the reporter didn’t explain it well. Or maybe my reading comprehension is not what it used to be. But whatever Davis’s position is, it’s clear she’s not as gung-ho pro-choice as she appeared last year. She’s not the unflinching, uncompromising defender of women’s rights that we thought she was during that filibuster. Apparently she never was.
She started as the underdog and she’s trailing her primary Republican opponent in a hypothetical matchup for governor. And, perhaps not surprisingly, her support has been gradually eroding. Women like me are realizing she’s not who we thought she was. Or maybe she’s just not who we wanted her to be.