US governor candidate speaks of abortions

2014-09-06 11:02
Senator Wendy Davis stands on a near empty senate floor as she filibusters in an effort to kill an abortion bill in Austin, Texas. (Eric Gay, AP)

Senator Wendy Davis stands on a near empty senate floor as she filibusters in an effort to kill an abortion bill in Austin, Texas. (Eric Gay, AP)

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Austin - Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, who became a national political sensation by delaying her state's tough new restrictions on abortion, discloses in her upcoming memoir that she had an abortion in the 1990s after discovering that the foetus had a severe brain abnormality.

In Forgetting to be Afraid, Davis also writes about ending an earlier ectopic pregnancy, in which an embryo implants outside the uterus.

Davis says she considered revealing the terminated pregnancies during her nearly 13-hour speech - as part of a parliamentary manoeuvre - on the floor of the Texas Senate last summer - but decided against it, saying "such an unexpected and dramatically personal confession would overshadow the events of the day".

Both pregnancies happened before Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, began her political career and after she was already a mother to two young girls.

Running for governor

Davis catapulted to national Democratic stardom after her filibuster temporarily delayed passed of sweeping new abortion restrictions.

She's now running for governor against Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is heavily favoured to replace Republican Governor Rick Perry next year.

The second pregnancy happened in 1996. Davis writes that during her second trimester she took a blood test that could determine chromosomal or neural defects, which doctors first told her didn't warrant concern.

But a later exam revealed that the brain of the foetus had developed in complete separation on the right and left sides, Davis says. Doctors told her the baby would be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state if she survived delivery, she writes.

"I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do," Davis writes. "She was suffering."

2nd termination medically necessary

She goes on to say that an "indescribable blackness followed" the pregnancy and that the loss left her forever changed.

The ectopic pregnancy happened in 1994, and terminating it was considered medically necessary, Davis writes.

Such pregnancies generally aren't considered viable, meaning the foetus can't survive, and they can endanger the mother's life. But Davis writes that in Texas, it's "technically considered an abortion, and doctors have to report it as such".

Davis' filibuster in June 2013 set off a chaotic scene in the Texas Capitol that extended past midnight.

Thousands of people watched it online, with President Barack Obama at one point tweeting, "Something special is happening in Austin tonight."

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