Texas governor Rick Perry attacks Wendy Davis over teenage pregnancy
Perry turns on pro-choice senator who filibustered abortion legislation by saying she failed to 'learn from her mistakes'
Amanda Holpuch in New York; guardian.co.uk, Thursday 27 June 2013 14.04 EDTt
The Texas governor, Rick Perry, turned on the newest hero of the pro-choice movement on Thursday, accusing state senator Wendy Davis of failing to "learn from her mistakes" as a single teenage mother.
Speaking at a pro-life convention in Dallas on Thursday, Perry mounted a pointedly personal attack on Davis, who spoke for 10 hours and 45 minutes this week as part of a successful attempt to stall the progress of a controversial abortion bill.
"What we witnessed Tuesday was nothing more than the hijacking of the democratic process," Perry said.
Davis came to international attention this week with her marathon filibuster, which helped block the passage of a bill that would restrict abortion to 20 weeks in Texas, and close all but five of the state's abortion clinics.
As news of her efforts spread during the day, crowds of supporters packed the public galleries, and when it appeared that a vote on the bill would finally take place 15 minutes before a midnight deadline, they erupted into cheers and jeers that derailed the session.
Perry has been forced to call another special session of the state legislature to force the bill through.
At the National Right to Life Convention's opening session in Dallas, Perry said the pro-choice supporters had used "mob tactics" to make their case and that the anti-abortion movement would continue to fight their side "with the grace, civility and dignity that our cause deserves".
"The laws we will pass in the coming of weeks will build on the legacy of life. We will ban abortion after 20 weeks," Perry said at the convention.
Davis, who has hinted in interviews this week that she may run for governor in Texas, said that if the state Congress acts quicker in the next special session, the bill will likely pass.
"Yes, many children are born in difficult circumstances, but there is no such thing as an unwanted life, because no life, no life is trivial in God's eyes," said Perry. He then acknowledged that Davis, who became as single mother as a teenager, had grown up in difficult circumstances. "It's just unfortunate she hasn't learned to live by her own example," Perry said, in remarks that were criticised as heartless and cruel on social media.
In a statement about the governor's remarks, Davis said:
[quote]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.
[quote]Our governor should reflect our Texas values. Sadly, Governor Perry fails that test.
The Texas bill called for a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, clinics that provide abortion to upgrade their facilities to be classed as ambulatory surgical centers and doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. They would have forced 37 of the populous state's 42 clinics to close, according to opponents.
At the convention though, the focus is on banning abortion nationwide. This year's event coincides with the 40th anniversary of the landmark Roe v Wade ruling, which legalized abortion in the US.
Numerous workshops at the convention are focused on improving outreach efforts by anti-abortion activists. Other scheduled workshops include: The Right to Life and Social Media, Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood – The Eugenics Connection and Pity the Post-Abortion Man: The Invalidation of Male Trauma in Our Culture.
The self-described "pro-life" convention also extends to topics including assisted suicide and China's one-child policy. A teen version of the convention runs concurrently.
Texas lieutenant governor David Dewhurst, who presided during Davis' fillibuster, is also speaking at the convention, as is Republican Texas senator Ted Cruz, who is rumored to be considering a presidential run in 2016.