That Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry has a problem with single mothers should come as no surprise. But he managed to stoop to a new low when he criticised Wendy Davis, the state senator who thwarted the GOP dominated Texas Senate in one of the most extraordinary displays of political passion and endurance this country has seen in a long, long time, for even being alive.
In a speech to the largest anti-abortion group in the United States, Governor Perry slammed Democrat Wendy Davis, saying, “It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example, that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.”
You heard that right. Because Wendy Davis was the daughter of a single mother, and was a single mother herself, she’s a hypocrite. She shouldn’t even exist. “What if her mom had said, ‘You know, I don’t want to do this?” Perry later speculated, conjuring up a world where Wendy Davis might have been aborted, or had aborted her own child when she’d become pregnant.
Unluckily for him, Wendy Davis’s mother had a choice. So did Wendy Davis. And one thing Rick Perry doesn’t like is women making choices for themselves.
Unlike Rick Perry’s parents, Wendy Davis’s mother raised four children after her divorce, with only a sixth-grade education, on her own, without any child support. Wendy Davis worked from the time she was 14 to help support her mother and siblings, and despite becoming a single mother herself after her own divorce at 19 went on to graduate from Texas Christian University and Harvard Law School. She put herself through college working as a waitress four nights a week, and a receptionist in a doctor’s office in the morning. She wasn’t born into a rich rancher’s family; nothing was ever handed to her on a silver platter.
Rick Perry’s arrogant comments were not just without dignity, reflecting a dark and negative point of view – they were calculatedly obtuse, an intentional ignorance of the English language. Because pro-choice means admitting women are not only capable enough to rise from the sort of adversity Wendy Davis did to become Harvard educated lawyers and members of the Texas Senate, but to make decisions about their lives and their bodies by themselves – whether that is an abortion, or choosing to have a child and raise it even in difficult circumstances. Rick Perry is deliberately equating abortion with women being intelligent enough to make decisions for themselves as is any white, male conservative, something he seems fundamentally incapable of recognizing. To have a child, or not, is a choice that belongs solely to a couple or individual woman involved, and the state has no right to insinuate itself into that decision.
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