No major abortion legislation passed in the 2007 session, perhaps due to distractions like Perry’s failed attempt to require adolescent girls to get vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, the leading cause of cervical cancer.
After Perry spent the 2008 presidential cycle explaining his endorsement of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — a supporter of abortion rights — he came into the 2009 session asserting his anti-abortion credentials, including backing “choose life” specialty license plates to raise money for pregnant women turning to adoption over abortion. (The measure failed that session.)
In the lead-up to the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary, in which Perry trounced U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a supporter of some abortion rights, he said: “If there’s been a more pro-life governor in Texas history, I’d be hard-pressed to name who that was.”
As the 82nd legislative session got under way earlier this year, with GOP lawmakers largely in control and a presidential bid mere months away, Perry declared abortion sonogram legislation an emergency item, clearing the way for its early passage. “We can’t afford to give up the good fight until the day Roe v. Wade is nothing but a shameful footnote in our nation’s history books,” Perry said in January.
The bill, which requires doctors to perform a sonogram and describe the fetus at least 24 hours before a woman has an abortion, passed — as did a holdover from the previous session, the “choose life” license plates. On Tuesday, a federal district judge upheld the requirement that sonograms be performed, but struck down the language requiring doctors to describe the fetus to the woman. The state will appeal the ruling.
Earlier this summer, some conservatives questioned Perry's anti-abortion stance, referring to statements in his 2010 book Fed Up! and comments on the campaign trail that the governor believed in the right of the states to regulate abortion. Perry quickly reframed his position, saying he favored a constitutional amendment to criminalize abortion, and signed the Susan B. Anthony List’s anti-abortion pledge, vowing, among other things, to only name anti-abortion appointees to cabinet positions.
As president, Miner said Perry would only further this anti-abortion stance, working to ensure no federal dollars pay for abortions, and to strip "the more than $300 million that currently flows to Planned Parenthood." The governor would "only appoint judges who respect the Constitution," Miner said.
What worries NARAL's Miller about Perry is his determination. Miller said that ideologically, there’s little difference between the position of Bush and Perry on abortion — but that Perry’s tone feels much more vehement.
“When you look at this field,” Miller said of the GOP candidates for president, “there’s no such thing as a moderate.”