Memo to first ladies: If you express a remotely controversial opinion, don’t bother attempting to defend your remarks. Your husband can do that for you.
Governor Rick Perry’s (R-Texas) views on women’s reproductive rights are crystal clear: He’s shuttered family planning clinics across the Lone Star State, championed abstinence education, and blamed rising teen pregnancy rates on the fact that America is ignoring the Boy Scouts. But last weekend, Anita Perry, who worked as a nurse before becoming the First Lady of Texas, said that abortion “could be a woman’s right.” Given her husband’s efforts to destroy every last abortion clinic in Texas, news of her quote spread like wildfire. But before pundits’ ink could dry, the governor made sure to shut that whole thing down.
“From time to time we’ll stick the wrong word in the wrong place, and you pounce upon it,” Perry said to the press yesterday during an appearance in New Jersey with Republican US Senate candidate Steve Lonegan. Anita Perry has not made any further public comment about her remarks—although they didn’t seem to leave much room for interpretation:
In the interview she said, “it’s really difficult for me…I see it as a woman’s right, if they want to do it, that’s their decision, they have to live with that decision.” In response to a follow-up question from a Texas Tribune reporter—”are you saying that you believe abortion is a women’s right, to make that choice?” Anita Perry said, “Yeah, that could be a women’s right. Just like it’s a man’s right if he wants to have some kind of procedure. But I don’t agree with it, and that’s not my view.” In the past, Anita Perry has done fundraising for a group called the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, which supports abortion rights. The Washington Post pointed out that Rick Perry pushed for his controversial (among social conservatives) executive order requiring HPV vaccines after his wife made a speech on the subject.
Perry will retire at the end of his third term. State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democrat famous for staging a marathon filibuster against Texas Republicans’ restrictive abortion bill, is expected to run, probably against Greg Abbott, the Republican state attorney general. Abbott, who opposes abortion, has not said whether he would make an exception for rape or incest, but noted that “we just don’t discriminate against a child because of their beginnings.”