It’s hard to recall an outpouring of adulation by abortion supporters as has recently been showered on Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis. At times, it has bordered on hagiography — veneration as a saint.
But is she really worthy of it?
As one example of glowing coverage — but only one — take these opening paragraphs from The Washington Post’s account of her filibuster last week against a bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation (with fetal abnormality and life-and-health of the mother exceptions) and required abortion facilities to meet the same standards as regular surgical clinics:
“Wendy Davis strode onto the floor of the Texas Senate chamber on Tuesday in rouge-red running shoes, and came off it early Wednesday morning as the Democratic Party’s newest star.”
(Well, except among pro-life Democrats and half of America’s women, but who cares about them?)
“As word spread, supporters thronged the Capitol’s entrances, lined the walkways encircling the rotunda and turned the Senate chamber’s galleries into a cheering section.”
(They later turned it into a mob-scene shouting section, blocking the state Senate from acting on the bill — but only temporarily.)
“What made the scene so riveting was the woman who was required to speak without a break, without straying from the topic and without even leaning on her antique walnut desk.”
(Which are the rules for any filibuster in Texas.)
However, we should also look at what St. Wendy was defending.
The Texas bill was inspired by the news out of Philadelphia about the chamber of horrors perpetuated there by Dr. Kermit Gosnell.
He was convicted of murdering three babies after birth and of negligent homicide in the death of a woman who, paramedics testified, could not be removed from Gosnell’s “clinic” after a botched abortion in time to save her life because its hallways were crowded with trash and too narrow for a stretcher, and an exit door was padlocked.
Gosnell’s clinic had not been inspected by the state for 15 years.
Prosecutors said there were hundreds of live-baby deaths there, and an oversight panel recommended clinic regulations identical to the ones Texas has proposed.
Indeed, 20-week bans are already found in 12 other states, so Texas isn’t unique. Perhaps we should instead ask why opponents are worried the law would, as Planned Parenthood claimed, “shut down all but five abortion clinics in Texas.”
As blogger Phil Lawler put it in his “City Gates” column June 26, “The law would require abortion clinics to pass muster as ambulatory surgical centers, since what they do is ambulatory surgery. And since sometimes things go wrong in surgery, the doctors would be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within a reasonable distance (30 miles). Applied to any other medical procedure, these rules would seem perfectly logical, reasonable, prudent exercises of regulatory oversight. But when abortion is in question, prudent oversight is abandoned.”
And he adds, “Incredibly, the people defending the status quo say they’re interested in preserving women’s health.”
What’s a baby like at 20 weeks’ gestation? Here’s what the Pampers website (of all places) says:
“Your baby is truly starting to experience the world around him, limited though it may be. His brain has been working overtime developing the nerve centers dedicated to his senses, and they’re coming alive. He’s more responsive to the changes in the world around him: your activity, sounds in the environment, and even the taste of the amniotic fluid.”
And the Similac website notes:
“Your baby probably measures about 6 inches, about the length of an eggplant, and weighs about half a pound. … His hair and nails continue to grow. His limbs are well developed when you’re 20 weeks pregnant. Your baby is moving and you can feel it. Make a note of when you felt these movements start and let your doctor know.”
They have no reluctance to use the word “baby,” do they? However, that’s exactly the little human being that St. Wendy and her supporters want to be able to kill.
But half of American women disagree. A recent National Journal poll showed 20-week bans were favored by a 48 percent overall plurality, with 50 percent of women backing them. (Independents favored them by 53 percent, and — get this! — young adults aged 18-29 offered 52 percent support.)
Interestingly, most European nations allow at-will abortions only during the first trimester (12 weeks is typical, with a few extending the range to 16 or 18 weeks).
As this is written, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has called the Legislature back into session, with the bill deemed likely to pass, although we will certainly see more demonstrations on both sides.
One hopes pro-life women — half the female population, remember — will get raves about the color of their shoes, too.
M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at: