Is it worth debating his motive here? If you’re passionately pro-life, you’ll take him at face value because people do, after all, have sincere changes of heart and it’s nice to have another principled advocate in the fold. If you’re passionately pro-Perry, you’ll say it’s a shrewd move because it might help him get a second look from social conservatives in Iowa who are otherwise leaning towards Bachmann or Santorum. And if you’re anti-Perry, you’ll say this isn’t a Christmas miracle so much as an exceptionally cynical seven-days-before-the-caucuses “miracle.”

Coincidentally, the film that convinced him to change his mind was produced by 2008 Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee.

In what the Texas governor calls a “transformation,” Rick Perry on Tuesday said that he has reversed his acceptance of abortion in some severe circumstances, saying that he now opposes the procedure even in cases of rape and incest.

Perry said the change came after seeing the “Gift of Life” film produced by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He told an audience of Iowans at Clark Electric Co-op in Osceola that he was moved by the story of a woman who introduced the film during a screening earlier this month in Des Moines.

“She said, ‘I am the product of rape.’ And she said ‘my life has worth,'” Perry said of his exchange with the woman. “It was a powerful moment.”…

[Pastor Joshua] Verwers said after the event that he was initially skeptical of Perry’s flip on the position but that the governor’s answer was “too perfect” and “sincere” to have come from anywhere but Perry’s own heart.

For argument’s sake, I’ll give you three reasons why this might not be pure political expedience at work. One: It wouldn’t be the first time personal testimony on a hot-button issue made a deep impression on Perry. His experience with Heather Burcham clearly touched him too. Two: It seems almost too desperate. Precisely because the timing reeks of expedience, there’s a risk that more social cons will perceive it as pandering and will dismiss him as a phony than will be charmed by his newfound commitment. If he was going to flip on this for reasons of political gain, why not do it several weeks ago instead of in the middle of his final Iowa push? Three, most importantly: How does he gain from it, really? Romney now has a defense against him the next time Perry calls him a flip-flopper and Bachmann and Santorum have a handy talking point for the Iowa base — namely, that they were both in the “no exceptions” camp long before Perry got there. They’re the true “true conservatives”; accept no imitations. Even if Perry does somehow squeak through to the nomination, now he’ll spend a chunk of the general election campaign defending his reversal on this instead of talking about his jobs record. If it’s all a ploy, it seems like it might be more trouble than it’s worth. Exit question: Sincere or just desperate?