Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has always been against a woman’s right to choose. As Texas governor, he has supported bills to restrict access to abortion and made public statements like “Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy.” However, Perry had believed abortion should remain legal in cases of rape, incest, or if the woman’s life is at risk.
Not for long: in the past week, Perry’s pro-life stance took a sharp — and deadly — turn to an even further extreme. And then, barely a day later, he backtracked on abortion yet again.
On Tuesday, Rick Perry’s campaign announced the candidate no longer believed in abortion under any circumstances. Unwanted pregnancy for a woman roofied at a party and sexually assaulted? No abortion. Unwanted pregnancy for a 16-year-old girl whose stepfather raped her? No abortion. Unwanted pregnancy because the strain on a woman’s internal organs could kill her? No abortion.
What caused Perry to veer sharply to the extreme? His campaign said he watched a DVD on his campaign bus last week called “The Gift Of Life,” a pro-life film hosted by fellow Republican Mike Huckabee, and then met a woman, Rebecca Kissling, who was featured in the film. (You can watch the trailer here.) The candidate told a crowd in Iowa that he had undergone a “transformation” after watching the film, particularly the part about Kissling, who was conceived from a rape. “The lady in the DVD was looking me in the eye and said, ‘You really have to think this through,” Perry said. “She said to me, ‘I am the product of rape,’ and she said ‘my life is worthy.’ It was a powerful moment.”
Apparently not powerful enough. Yesterday, Perry changed his tune to a (slightly) more compassionate stance, saying he “always struggled” on abortion and “would allow the legal procedure if the pregnancy threatened the mother’s life.” I can only assume that the outcry on Tuesday and Wednesday about his extreme stance — basically calling for maternal martyrdom — prior to the January 3 Iowa caucus prompted the flip flop.
Somehow, I’m not reassured.