For Democrats in Texas hoping to prevent an anti-abortion bill a second time from passing through the state legislature, time will be both an enemy and a friend.
Republicans now have a second special legislative session devoted almost exclusively to passing a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and impose regulations that would shutter all but six abortion clinics in the state, giving them plenty of time to overcome Democratic objections to the bill.
But they can also count on Democrats to make those days as painful for them as possible…
The next several weeks will likely entail a complex game of parliamentary maneuvering, heated rhetoric and political gamesmanship that have both local and national implications.
A roster of celebrity women will rally this week on behalf of Texas Democrats as they try for a second time to stop state Republicans from pushing through a restrictive anti-abortion bill.
Celebrity singer Natalie Maines, “Friday Night Lights” and “Nashville” actress Connie Britton, actress Lisa Edelstein of “House” and Stephanie March of “Law & Order: SVU” have joined Planned Parenthood in the organization’s effort to aid Texas Democrats in round two of their fight against a 20-week abortion ban and other restrictions on abortion facilities that are aimed a closing a majority of clinics in the state…
Maines, lead singer of the country group the Dixie Chicks, Edelstein and March will all join Planned Parenthood at a rally at the state Capitol today. They will be joined by Davis, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, and Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
“[T]here is a network of paid, coordinated agitators looking to undermine our republic and compromise the sovereignty of our state,” said Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst.
He was talking about the protests taking place outside the Texas State Capitol during the special session where thousands showed up in Austin to “stand with Wendy” in voicing opposition to changing state laws on late-term abortions…
In an email to TheDC, Dewhurst said the protests would not deter his commitment to the pro-Life cause. “While their efforts to subvert our deliberative legislative process will no doubt continue, we will not waver in our fight for life,” he said. “Nor will I ever apologize for my belief in the sanctity of life and our responsibility to improve care for Texas women while protecting the unborn.”
State senator Donna Campbell, who issued the third point of order against Davis’s filibuster (which ended it), has also been the target of extensive verbal abuse from pro-choice protesters, according to her spokesman Jon Oliver.
They’ve received Facebook messages and e-mails saying, “I hope you’re raped” and “I hope your daughter’s raped,” Oliver tells me.
“Lots of language — ‘You’re an effin’ blank,’ ‘You are a traitor to women’ — those kind of things,” Oliver says. “I wouldn’t say anything’s necessarily a direct threat, but they’re the kind of e-mails that make you a little nervous, especially when you start talking about family members: ‘I hope your family members are raped.’”
Oliver tells me that the Department of Public Safety is on high alert during the special session.
GOP pollster Whit Ayres said he’d be “happy to have a debate on an 80 percent issue when the 80 percent is on your side” — referring to the eight out of 10 people in the Gallup poll who said abortions should be illegal in the third trimester…
GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway says the party will be on solid ground with the debate as long as it sticks to the issues. But in a not-so-subtle message to Perry, she warned Republicans not to get distracted and make the debate about personalities — like Davis.
“It would be a mistake to divert attention from the central message here — that 64 percent of Americans support a ban on abortions after the 20th week when told that nonpartisan medical experts say the fetus can feel pain at that point — and onto messengers like Wendy Davis,” Conway said. “The right should stick to its knitting: issues over individuals, policies over politics, principles over personalities. The public supports their position on this, a measure that has passed in a number of states without repercussion.”
But on a national level, the pro-life movement has been trying to fix the problem, taking a page from the pro-choice handbook, by making women the point people for delivering their message. Despite the attention garnered by Franks, the recent House bill to limit late-term abortions was managed by Republicans Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.
On Monday, in Texas, state Sen. Donna Campbell kicked off the next round of the state’s abortion debate with a press conference that featured nearly a dozen women who had abortions and later regretted their decision. “You cannot inflict pain and suffering on the child without inflicting pain and suffering on the mother,” one of the women explained.
It was a clear indication that pro-life activists will not allow the next round of debate turn out like the last round, which ended with a dramatic standoff between state Sen. Davis, Gov. Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. At candidate trainings for pro-life politicians, Dannenfelser has also been telling politicians to avoid mistakes that distract from the central message. “We say address the issue that you are being confronted with that cuts against you 80%. “Then make sure every time you are addressing the overall position,” she said, noting polls that suggest rape exceptions to abortion bans are popular. “I have yet to find a pro-rape candidate, or a pro-I-don’t-care-about-women candidate.”
[I]t looks like Americans have thought this for almost two decades. The percent supporting a second trimester ban has never dropped below 64 percent, and the percent supporting a third trimester ban has never dropped below 80 percent in that time. These positions are true elsewhere, too – once a baby starts looking like a baby, people tend to think it ought to be protected. That’s why most of Europe has bans on abortion ranging from 10 to 22 weeks, and the major countries have first trimester bans – Portugal at 10 weeks, Germany and Spain at 14 weeks, Italy at effectively the end of the first trimester. France is at 14 weeks as well, and they even mandate a one-week waiting period for all abortions. Most of these countries also have conscientious objection clauses designed to protect those doctors with moral objections to abortion…
Twenty weeks is, of course, an arbitrary mark to draw a line between protected under law and lump of cells. The general argument from the pro-lifers is that it is a point where the unborn obviously feel pain. Viability is a threshold that continues to move earlier thanks to medical science, and indeed some children born at 20 weeks have survived. But there’s something else that happens at around the 20 week mark: the unborn can distinguish sounds. The first sound they will hear is the voice of their mother. In the weeks to come it will be a soothing and recognizable sound, distinguishable from all the rest. They will respond to it and react to it, to changes in volume and conversation. Much later, they will even be able to recognize tones of voice. But at the twenty week mark, there is only the formless sound. The child cannot understand what she is saying. They cannot detect the difference in tenor when she makes the call, and schedules the appointment, and takes them from the waiting room into the operating room where they will die. They only recognize it as a mother’s voice, full of promise, enveloping them – familiar, reassuring, safe.
If the majority of Americans oppose elective late-term abortion, why do we have Davis complaining to CBS’s Bob Schieffer that the male politicians who are championing the late-term abortion ban are “bullying women”? Maybe it’s she who is bullying the rest of us into supporting a view that is mocked by scientific advancement; namely 3-D sonograms. Maybe we should be thankful for the men and wonder what is wrong with the women who think protecting the right to abort your baby for any reason up to the 26th week is a “human right.”
Human-rights movements have traditionally existed to help the voiceless and those without agency gain progressively more rights. Yet in the case of abortion, the voiceless have progressively lost rights at the hands of people who claim to be human-rights crusaders. Abortion-rights leaders have turned the world upside down. They want us to believe that a grown woman is voiceless, that she has less agency than the infant in her womb who relies on her for life. A woman has so little agency, we are told, that she is incapable of getting an abortion before the fifth month of her pregnancy. To suggest she should do so is a “war on women.” It’s an insult to women dressed up as “women’s rights.”
On ABC’s This Week, Peggy Noonan responded to the chants of “I stand with Wendy” by noting, “What she is … standing for is something we would recognize as infanticide, late-term abortion, the taking of a little child’s life.” Standing for that is not heroic, and it is not something to be cheered.