Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I can't figure out what she's saying, either

Did she fall into a trap?

This week, Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis delighted her detractors and confounded her pro-choice supporters when she appeared to support the very same 20-week ban she spent 11 hours filibustering.

Davis’ remarks to the Dallas Morning News that she would have voted for a ban with a broader health exception than the one in force – i.e., not an actual reversal, though it wasn’t terribly clear – were promptly represented as “flip flopping.” More accurately, they represent Davis falling into a trap set for her by abortion opponents, a place of awkward hairsplitting on unpopular later abortions.

 Is she reinforcing what she has previously stated?

Davis' statement comes as a shock, but perhaps that's because we weren't paying close enough attention. Though Davis' opponents prefer to characterize her filibuster as nothing more than a defense of later-term abortions, in truth the bill she stood against was mostly written to shut down access to safe first-trimester abortions. And her remarks this week are largely consistent with what she said during the filibuster, when she argued that the medical exceptions in the bill for later-term abortions were too narrow, replacing a doctor's judgment with that of nonexperts like judges.

Is she splitting hairs?

Abortion is a complicated issue, and one about which most Texans have complicated feelings. There has never been any real reason to think that Davis is enthusiastic about abortions, despite the fact that she was against a law that would restrict access to the procedure. The fact that she is so often accused of being a "cheerleader" for the procedure, in fact, proves nothing so much as the sanctimony, dishonesty, and occasional misogyny of her critics. [...] Think of Davis as a regular pro-choice person, rather than the abortion advocate her critics have tried to paint her as. From that perspective, the comments offered yesterday are an elaboration of her previously expressed opinions, rather than an attempt to distance herself from them. 

Is what she is saying making sense?

What Davis is saying about the nature of later abortions — the fact that they’re very rare, are typically necessary when serious health issues arise, and require consultation between women and their doctors — is all true. Those realities just aren’t compatible with a ban on the procedure.

From a policy position, Davis’ stance simply doesn’t make sense. If the goal is to “give enough deference” to women who are making complicated decisions about their reproductive health, and allow medical professionals to exercise their own judgment about their patients’ care without being hampered by the legislature, that’s directly undermined by the enactment of a ban. For proof, look no further than any abortion provider who practices in a state with abortion restrictions on the books. Every attempt to separate abortion from the rest of medical care, and use political language to describe the circumstances under which it may be performed, changes the way that doctors would have otherwise chosen to conduct their work. Even attempting to include exceptions for some women doesn’t actually work in practice.

All these translations are as all over the map as the candidate's own statements.  Every time she tries to clarify something, it gets muddier.

This is a campaign in complete disarray, and we've reached the point where that can no longer be blamed on the handlers and consultants.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

Her statements on marijuana were "bleah," too. Timid, as well, per what I blogged.