Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Memoir puts abortion back in Texas governor’s race

Texas Democrat Wendy Davis launched her long shot bid for governor by filibustering her state’s tough new restrictions on abortion, and now she’s entering the last two months of the race talking about undergoing the procedure herself.

The revelation by Davis in her upcoming memoir that she ended a pregnancy in the 1990s drew sympathy from top Democrats and Republicans on Saturday, including her opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who said he grieved for her family and the loss of life.

But the abortion she had for medical reasons nearly 20 years ago could nonetheless complicate campaign crunch time for Davis, who has struggled to make up ground against heavily favored Abbott with the Nov. 4 Election Day looming.

“It’s back to the future,’’ said Bill Miller, a Texas-based political consultant who has mostly worked for Republicans but calls himself a friend to Davis. “I saw this issue as giving her a great start, but it’s not going to give her a great finish.’’

The Associated Press purchased an advanced copy of “Forgetting to be Afraid,’’ which hits bookstores Tuesday.

In it, Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, writes that she chose an abortion in 1997 after doctors told her the fetus had a severe brain abnormality and would be unlikely to survive.

She also describes terminating a 1994 ectopic pregnancy, in which an embryo implants outside the uterus. Terminating the pregnancy was considered medically necessary.

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who is the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, said Saturday she was “heartbroken for my sister Wendy and her family tragedy.’’

Abbott, who is opposed to abortion, struck a similar tone in a brief statement.

“The unspeakable pain of losing a child is beyond tragic for any parent. As a father, I grieve for the Davis family and for the loss of life,’’ Abbott said.

Davis catapulted to national Democratic stardom after her nearly 13-hour filibuster in the Texas Senate last summer that temporarily blocked the passage of tough new abortion restrictions. The move set off a chaotic scene featuring thousands of protesters in the Texas Capitol that extended past midnight.

But since then, Davis has made other issues — namely improving schools and cleaning up what she calls Texas’ culture of insider politics — the focus of her campaign. She has said previously that voters already knew where she stood on the abortion issue.

Now, though, there may be little room to talk about anything else.

“It’s an issue she already owns,’’ Miller said. “Introducing it in the homestretch doesn’t help much, and it may block out anything else she wants to talk about.’’

Liz Chadderdon, a national Democratic strategist and native Texan, said that the revelation could help win over suburban Texas women whom Davis has aggressively courted.

“It’s easy to say, `This is the one thing that ends her campaign.’ I think she’s going to make it the one thing that could actually save her,’’ Chadderdon said. “It opens up the discussion that this happens to women across Texas every single day; we just don’t talk about it.’’

But Republican pollster Marc DelSignore said he doesn’t think the revelation is likely to cause Davis to lose or gain support among voters.

“Maybe on the fringes. But by and large, the people in the middle, they’re not as susceptible to abortion one way or the other as being a defining issue,’’ he said.

In Nevada this year, Democrat Lucy Flores has faced questions in her campaign for lieutenant governor over her previously disclosing having an abortion at 16. Kristina Hagen, Flores’ campaign manager, said Saturday the assemblywoman preferred not to comment.

Davis dedicated her memoir to her two adult daughters and the other she lost.

“It would take me the better part of a year to ultimately make my way up and out of it,’’ she writes in the book. “And when I finally did come through it, I emerged a different person. Changed. Forever changed.”

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