Texas first lady Anita Perry told an interviewer on Saturday that she thinks abortion is “a woman’s right.”
Perry’s husband, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), has helped push through a slew of laws restricting and eroding access to abortion in the state. He is on record deriding the idea that the right to privacy extends to abortion, has signed a pledge urging opposition to abortion “without exception and without compromise,” and explicitly stated that his goal is to make abortion in Texas “a thing of the past.”
Apparently, his wife does not agree. When asked at an interview at the Texas Tribune Festival if she thinks the governor’s administration “got it right” on abortion policy, Anita Perry immediately responded, “Well, that’s really difficult for me.” And while she clearly expressed personal opposition to abortion, she twice referred to that choice as “a woman’s right.”
INTERVIEWER: Your view is: governor’s got it right, the administration has it right?
ANITA PERRY: Well, that’s really difficult for me Evan, because I see it as a woman’s right. If they want to do that, that is their decision. They have to live with that decision.
INTERVIEWER: Mrs. Perry I want to be sure that you didn’t just inadvertently make news. Are you saying that you believe that abortion is a woman’s right — to make that choice?
PERRY: It is not mine. It is not something that I would say for them.
INTERVIEWER: Do you believe that the state is attempting to say for them? And that if the governor and the administration had its way it would say for women that it is not their right?
PERRY: I think it goes back to the states and Texas has decided that no that is not what we want in the state.
INTERVIEWER: But your personal point of view is that it’s a person’s decision within the law to make that choice?
PERRY: Well I don’t really think that’s making news. I mean, I think that yeah, that could be a woman’s right. Just like it’s a man’s right if he wants to have some kind of procedure.
Under Rick Perry’s governorship, Texas criminalized abortions after twenty weeks and passed a number of regulations that threaten to shut down 90 percent of abortion providers in the state. The state also cut funding for Planned Parenthood, effectively gutting public support for abortion providers and women’s health services. The state also doesn’t cover abortions for low income women under Medicaid except in instances of incest, rape, and when the mother’s life is endangered.
Ironically, those cuts exacerbate the very reasons women delay abortions until after 20 weeks in the first place: the difficulties in finding a provider who isn’t hundreds of miles away, the difficulties saving up to afford the procedure, and the fact that fetal health testing often can’t identify major problems before 20 weeks. Even then only 1.5 percent of abortions occur after that point.
Mrs. Perry’s claim that only four countries allow abortions after 20 weeks also calls for some unpacking. It’s actually six countries, but more importantly, many of the western European nations where abortion is technically illegal after twenty weeks allow a wide range of exemptions for mental health reasons, physical health, or even socioeconomic status — the same kind of exemptions the pro-life movement and the GOP regularly deride as unnecessary loopholes waiting to be abused. Those countries also provide vast amounts of health and socioeconomic support to women, and generously fund abortions before the 20 week cutoff — assistance that’s near nonexistent in Texas.