The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group, criticized Texas Sen. Wendy Davis' recent comments on the state's 20-week abortion ban as being a politically desperate attempt to align with pro-life supporters in her state ahead of the 2014 gubernatorial election, for which Davis is the most likely choice as the Democratic candidate.
Sen. Davis (D-Fort Worth), who gained national attention last summer when she successfully filibustered an abortion regulation package that included the 20-week ban, said in a recent interview that she could have supported a 20-week ban on abortion in the state, had it included more exemptions and allowed women to defer to their doctors.
"National and Texas-based polling shows Wendy Davis' extreme abortion position is repellant to voters, including women, young people, and Hispanics. Most Americans simply can't stomach the brutality of late abortion and are moving towards compassionate, common ground limits. Only political desperation could cause Davis to try to give the appearance of moving with them, while at the same time maintaining abortion as her 'sacred ground,' and eviscerating the goals of the legislation," Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life nonprofit group, said in a statement.
In a recent interview with The Dallas Morning News, the Democratic senator says that she finds the 20-week abortion ban the "least objectionable" of the abortion-restricting laws passed in Texas in 2013.
"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 told The Dallas Morning News.
"I would have and could have voted to allow that to go through, if I felt like we had tightly defined the ability for a woman and a doctor to be making this decision together and not have the legislature get too deep in the weeds of how we would describe when that was appropriate," she added.
Davis also said that she agrees with many Texas residents in believing that abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy should not be performed unless there are fetal abnormalities or a grave danger to the health of the woman. "I would line up with most people in Texas who would prefer that that's not something that happens outside of those two arenas," Davis said.
Some media outlets suggest that Davis' recent comments are an effort for her to appear more moderate in a state that hasn't elected a Democratic governor since 1994. She also recently said she supported current Gov. Rick Perry's comments on possibly decriminalizing marijuana in the state to help lower incarceration rates. Additionally, she expressed support for the proposed "open carry" gun laws in Texas that would allow a person with a concealed handgun license to carry their pistol on their hip in plain view.
Critics still expect a tough fight for Davis to become governor, especially since she will be running against Texas' attorney general, Greg Abbott, who is ahead of Davis in multiple polls.
The omnibus abortion bill was passed last year when Gov. Rick Perry (R) called a special legislative session. While some other sections of the bill are under court review, the state's 20-week abortion ban remains legal. According to the Guttmacher Institute, nine states ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.