Texas' Wendy Davis backs some later-term abortion restrictions

HOUSTON — Wendy Davis, the Texas gubernatorial candidate who garnered national attention for an 11-hour filibuster last year against state abortion restrictions, this week said she would support certain qualified restrictions.

The state senator from Fort Worth said during an appearance in Houston Wednesday that she would not oppose a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with caveats. A 20-week ban, included in recent abortion laws proposed in other states, was not part of the Texas abortion legislation eventually passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature.


"I respect and trust women and their doctors to make these decisions," Davis said, noting that such late-term abortions are "very rare."

Though Davis has made similar comments in the past, they did not gain national attention while she was in the spotlight during the filibuster.

They came to light again this week during a meeting with the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News.

She told the board Tuesday that she and many Texans opposed late-term abortions and that fewer than one-half of 1% of abortions occur after 20 weeks in Texas, most of them because of fetal abnormalities or serious health risks to the woman.

"I would line up with most people in Texas who would prefer that that's not something that happens outside of those two arenas," Davis said.

Days before, she came out in favor of allowing those licensed to carry concealed guns to carry them openly as well. In the state Senate, she had supported proposals to allow college students to carry guns on campus, but as a member of the Fort Worth City Council she had supported gun control measures.

"It's a libertarian issue for me," she said Wednesday. "We in Texas are a state that values the 2nd Amendment."

Davis has made comments in support of Texas legalizing marijuana, but this week she said she wanted to wait and see how the issue played out in other states. On Wednesday, she said she would be open to "decriminalizing small amounts."

Republicans, including her opponent, Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott, have accused Davis of flip-flopping.

"I supported #gun rights BEFORE the campaign began & have an A rating by @NRA as opposed to Wendy Davis' F rating. I'll keep Texas free," Abbott tweeted last week.

Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, faulted Davis for what he said was her attempt to position herself as pro-gun and against abortion rights and legalization of marijuana.

"She's now backtracking," he said, noting that after Democrats decided to back Davis as a liberal candidate, "guess what they found out? This is a center-right state."

But some analysts and Democratic strategists said Davis could benefit from reiterating moderate views, particularly on abortion and guns, which are likely to appeal to moderate Republican or independent women in the suburbs.

Jeremy Bird, founder of Battleground Texas, a group rallying Texas Democrats to turn out for upcoming elections, said recent attacks on Davis' positions reflect how competitive the race has become.


"They clearly want to call her out because they think her story is one that appeals to a majority of Texans," Bird said.

Twitter: @mollyhf