Wendy Davis has surprised Texans with a hodgepodge of seemingly desperate social issue stances, but the Davis campaign seems now ready to change directions on Davis’s signature issue: abortion. The Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate told the Dallas Morning News she supports bans on abortions after 20 weeks.
Davis, who catapulted into the national political spotlight with a lengthy filibuster opposing a Texas state senate bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks, told the newspaper that she supports a bill that would have done exactly what the one she filibustered would have. While she noted that she agreed with “most people in Texas” that abortions at that stage should be limited to cases where the health of the mother was gravely at stake or the child had evident fetal abnormalities, she made an attempt to distinguish between the bill she filibustered and the ban that she supported.
“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,” she told the paper.
She also told the paper that she would have supported a different version of the bill that did not restrict clinics as much, instead creating a flexible ban that allowed for medical emergencies. She could have voted for a bill that “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.”
The shocking about-face on abortion is not an outright surprise: Davis has referred to herself as “pro-life” before, and some media sources have claimed that she stood against abortions after week 20 the entire time she has been a national figure. These claims are difficult to reconcile with the fact that she literally stood in favor of this exact sort of late term abortion last summer, and this one policy position defined her political identity for months.
That political identity, Texas voters are quickly learning, is very fluid. Davis was a lifelong Republican before entering the public arena and donated to the George W. Bush presidential campaign. She was considered untrustworthy by many Democrats upon running for public office. While many in the national arena were expecting a principled progressive campaign, the revelations that Davis lied about being a single teen mother and paying her way through law school put the campaign in a tailspin.
Since that revelation–one that Davis continues to deny–her campaign stances have included very little on the topic of abortion and more on support for open carry of weapons in public than Texas Democrats seem comfortable with. Along with her new support of banning late-term abortions, Davis revealed in the same interview with the Dallas Morning News–the newspaper that broke the story on her adolescence–that she supports legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalizing recreational use. None of these stances appear on her official website, much less her unpredictable positions on them.
The resulting amalgam of political opinions have made Texas voters’ heads spin, though few are likely to be as much of a bombshell as the full renunciation of her position on abortion mere weeks after sharing a stage with the president of Planned Parenthood. The polls have not been favorable to Davis from the start, and Republican opponent Greg Abbott raised more than three times the amount of money as Davis in January. The pressure on the campaign is clear to say and do anything to attract voters; whether reneging on the one thing Davis is supposed to believe will attract Texas voters is a matter for the election booths this November, if the Davis campaign makes it to the finish line.