Politics & Policy

The Return of Wendy Davis

Davis at the National Press Club in August 2013. (Win McNamee/Gety)
The erstwhile abortion superstar hasn’t learned from her defeat.

Wendy Davis — remember her? — is back.

Davis, you’ll recall, became a national celebrity for wearing pink sneakers onto the Texas senate floor to fight for the “right” of mothers to kill their unborn children at will. She managed to leverage that stardom into one of the more humiliating political campaigns in recent years, losing her governor’s race to Texas attorney general Greg Abbott by 20 points and 1 million votes.

Now, after a much-appreciated disappearance from the public eye, Davis is back, and in the midst of a busy media week.

You might think that after losing nearly every demographic group last November — including women — and that after the extensive polling showing a majority of women support stricter abortion laws, Davis might deign to reexamine her view that society is one vote away from becoming The Handmaid’s Tale. But it’s apparently not to be. Discussing abortion with Mic.com, she went full Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

We’re literally forcing women into being childbearing vessels. [But] how are the children of the women who were forced to bear them going to be fed and educated?

Given Davis’s extremism on this issue, I don’t think that’s a Joe Biden-style “literally.” As for the second sentence, the Huffington Post’s Emma Gray, “executive women’s editor,” explained: “[Davis] expressed concern specifically about those who oppose abortion on the grounds that we must ‘protect life,’ but who also oppose social programs that often help the children born out of these pregnancies thrive.” As my colleague David French wrote a few months back about this idiotic meme — that pro-life activists only care about a baby until it’s born, at which point they’re happy to let it die in the street — it’s “just pure slander.” But from a woman who accused her wheelchair-bound gubernatorial opponent of (a) exploiting his paralysis for political gain, and (b) opposing interracial marriage (despite the fact that he’s married to a Hispanic woman), is such a claim particularly surprising?

#share#This week also saw the publication of Davis’s gushing Rolling Stone interview, which she spends burnishing her credentials for a position at Jezebel. For example, Davis explains congressional Republicans’ opposition to Planned Parenthood as a product of their fear of “women’s autonomy”:

When we talk about taking women’s reproductive rights away, we are talking about, essentially, putting our foot on their heads and not letting them rise in the economic arena. . . . Why would so many Republican candidates be articulating that? They know that they’re tapping into a perception in voters that women’s autonomy is somehow a threat to the very fabric of what we hold dear in this country. . . . For men, there’s a feeling that new competition will arise in the workplace.

Yes, I suppose that’s one explanation.

Or maybe they think that there are better providers of women’s health care than Planned Parenthood.

#related#Or maybe they think that taxpayers should not have to fund the nation’s premier abortion provider, since abortion is, you know, kind of controversial.

Or maybe they just like babies and think we shouldn’t be killing them in the womb.

Any of these is a likelier explanation than Davis’s conspiracy of the patriarchy. But knee-jerk abortion extremism is the sine qua non for left-wing women at present. Fortunately, the country appears to be moving away from her radical beliefs, and Wendy Davis’s political future may end up as abortive as her past.

— Ian Tuttle is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute.

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