Fact Check

08.08.13

On Abortion, Wendy Davis Doesn’t Know What She’s Talking About

The Texas crusader let it slip this week that she is badly misinformed on the late-term abortion ban she crusaded against. And she’s not the only misinformed Democratic woman, writes Kirsten Powers.

Wendy Davis says the darndest things.

The Democratic star du jour was asked this week to explain the difference between the late-term abortions she fought to keep legal in Texas and the illegal killings by Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. “I don’t know what happened in the Gosnell case,” she told the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack, who cornered her after her National Press Club speech on Monday.

This is incredible. After all, Davis is the state senator who held an 11-hour filibuster to fight legislation drafted in response to the abuses at Gosnell’s clinic. A passing knowledge of the case seems like basic due diligence.

She went on: “But I do know that [Gosnell] happened in an ambulatory surgical center. And in Texas changing our clinics to that standard obviously isn’t going to make a difference.” It takes real skill to pack so many falsehoods into so few words.

According to the Gosnell grand jury report (PDF), “The abhorrent conditions and practices inside Gosnell’s clinic [were] directly attributable to the Pennsylvania Health Department’s refusal to treat abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical facilities.” In December 2011, the governor of Pennsylvania signed a law inspired by the Gosnell tragedy requiring exactly that. This legislation was opposed by the pro-abortion rights forces in Pennsylvania, but had the full-throated support of Democratic state Rep. Margo Davidson, whose 22-year-old cousin died from a botched abortion at Gosnell’s clinic. Davidson rejected the claims that abortion clinics didn’t need additional regulation and oversight to ensure safety. Three former Planned Parenthood employees who have acted as whistleblowers in Delaware also have rejected this claim. They have testified twice before the Delaware legislature to call for stricter regulations of clinics to protect women after witnessing horrors one compared to Gosnell’s clinic.  Wendy Davis should call them.

At one point in his interview, McCormack asked Davis what she made of the fact a majority of women support late-term abortion bans. Davis told him, “I…think that a lot of people don’t really understand the landscape of what’s happening in that arena today and what an incredibly small percentage of procedures take place there.”

Actually, the people who “don’t really understand” the issue are the Democratic ladies crusading against laws the majority of the country supports.

Actually, the people who “don’t really understand” the issue are Democraticladies.

Despite frequently mocking anti-abortion activists as anti-science know-nothings, abortion rights absolutists are the ones who play fast and loose with the facts of abortion. Because they are so rarely asked to defend their positions, Davis and her ilk apparently don’t feel the need to be informed.  Follow-up questions to their strange and often empirically false statements are almost nonexistent, while offensive or misinformed comments from GOP back benchers are greeted with full-scale media hysteria.

John McCormack has been the dogged fly in the ointment here. On a noble quest to get a response to an eminently reasonable question, he has yet to get a straight answer. In June, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi convened a press conference to condemn a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks. McCormack asked her essentially the same question he asked Davis: “What is the moral difference between what Dr. Gosnell did to a baby born alive at 23 weeks and aborting her moments before birth?  Pelosi answered, “You’re probably enjoying that question a lot, I can see you savoring it.” This insulting nonsense inexplicably elicited laughter from some of the assembled reporters.

Pelosi then told an outright lie: “[The 20-week ban] would make it a federal law that there would be no abortion in our country.”  No reporter questioned this absurdity, even though they’ve heard pro-abortion rights leaders assert a thousand times that “only” 1.5 percent of abortions occur after 20 weeks. (For those who care, that’s “only” 18,000 late-term abortions each year.)

Pelosi then expressed outrage at the line of questioning, raised the fact she had five children in six years, and snapped, “As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this.” When you are pulling the Catholic card to defend your support of unrestricted late-term abortion, you’ve officially gone off the rails.

In May this year, former abortion doctor Dr. Anthony Levantino described late-term abortion in congressional testimony before a House subcommittee debating the 20-week abortion ban Pelosi and most Democrats opposed. It is similar to the one Davis opposed in Texas. Levantino told the committee: “The toughest part….is extracting the baby’s head. [Y]ou will know you have it right when you crush down on the clamp and see white gelatinous material coming through the cervix. That was the baby’s brains. You can then extract the skull pieces. Many times a little face will come out and stare back at you.”

Nothing to “savor” there.