Texas gubernatorial candidate and pro-choice activist Wendy Davis, a Democrat who is known for her 10-hour filibuster against abortion restrictions last year, has revealed that she ended two pregnancies in the 1990s, a period she describes as a time of "a deep, dark despair and grief."
In her memoir, Forgetting to be Afraid, which is scheduled to hit stores Tuesday, she writes she had an abortion in 1996 after tests showed the brain of the unborn child had developed separately on the right and left sides, according to The Associated Press.
Davis, who filibustered a bill last June that banned abortions at 20 weeks, also shares about another abortion two years earlier due to an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when an embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus.
Terminating the ectopic pregnancy in 1994 was considered medically necessary, she says. But in Texas, it's "technically considered an abortion, and doctors have to report it as such," she writes.
When she was expecting again in 1996 after she and her former husband Jeff decided to stop taking birth-control measures, she had an abortion during her second trimester. A blood test showed chromosomal or neural defects and the baby – whom she and her then-husband had already named Tate Elise – would be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state if she survived delivery, she writes, saying she sought opinions from multiple doctors.
"I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do," Davis writes. "She was suffering."
"An indescribable blackness followed. It was a deep, dark despair and grief, a heavy wave that crushed me, that made me wonder if I would ever surface," San Antonio Express-News quotes Davis as saying in the book. "And when I finally did come through it, I emerged a different person. Changed. Forever changed."
Davis had the abortions before she started her political career and while she was already a mother to two young girls.
Davis met and began dating Jeff when she was 21. They married when she was 24.
Their two daughters lived in Texas with Jeff while Wendy attended Harvard in Massachusetts. After Harvard, Wendy moved back to Texas and began her law and political career.
Express-News has published excerpts of the memoir.
"The following morning, after spending my last night with Tate, talking to her, sobbing as I felt her tiny body tremble inside mine, I managed to rise, to dress, to take Jeff's hand as he helped me into the car and drove me to the doctor's office. The previous night, as I lay awake, I was unsure if I would be able to muster the strength to make my body move toward the inevitability of what would follow from each of those movements. But somehow, and with Jeff's support, I did.
"In our doctor's office, with tears flowing down both our faces, Jeff and I looked at our baby daughter's beating heart on the sonogram screen for the last time. And we watched as our doctor quieted it. It was over. She was gone. Our much-loved baby was gone."