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Pro-life leaders offer compassion, criticism of Wendy Davis’ abortion confession

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Pro-life groups are offering sympathy for the pain Wendy Davis felt following her two abortions, but they question whether the pro-abortion Democrat is telling the full story, as well as the timing of the bombshell revelation.

In a new book hitting shelves this week, Davis -- who is running a losing race against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott -- says that she had an abortion in 1997. The abortion, which Davis says caused "deep, dark despair," was committed, according to Davis, because the child had severe abnormalities. Another abortion that Davis had previously disclosed was allegedly performed due to an ectopic pregnancy, which Davis says posed a risk to her health.

"Many women suffer depression after their abortions and fee a sense of grief and remorse. For many, these feelings impact their lives and make them more susceptible to risky behavior," Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy analyst for Operation Rescue, told LifeSiteNews. "Women who have abortions are tragically 154 percent more likely to commit suicide than women who do not have abortions. They are also 144 percent more likely to abuse subsequent children and 500 times more likely to suffer from substance abuse after their abortions, according to a 2000 report in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse."

Likewise,  Texas Right to Life Legislative Associate Emily Horne told LifeSiteNews that "Davis' stated experiences confirm what many post-abortive women feel: the emotional aftermath of abortion. Perhaps Davis' story will cause some in her own party and her political-backers alike to acknowledge the toll an abortion takes on a woman's overall health and well-being."

Davis' opponent, Greg Abbott, expressed sympathy for Davis. “The unspeakable pain of losing a child is beyond tragic for any parent. As a father, I grieve for the Davis family and for the loss of life," Abbott said.

“She definitely experienced a loss of two children, and we are sympathetic to her for that," said Joe Pojman, speaking for the Texas Alliance for Life, told the San Antonio Express-News.

He also noted that "the position of our organization is that we do not favor, and we don't recommend, aborting a child who has a severe disability, the same as we can't recommend destroying a newborn child who has a severe disability. Both of them are children."

In addition to offering sympathy, some expressed skepticism about the details, and timing, of Davis' announcement.

“Only Ms. Davis knows the truth about her alleged abortions,” Sullenger told LifeSiteNews. "We simply do not know the circumstances of Wendy Davis' apparent abortions.”

“We do know from state abortion statistics kept in many states that it is extremely rare - if not non-existent - for a woman to have an abortion because the pregnancy posed a risk to her life. As for fetal anomalies, it simply isn't necessary to abort a child because he or she is sick or has a medical condition,” Sullenger said, citing perinatal hospices as a healing alternative. “If Ms. Davis' babies suffered from some medical condition, it is a shame that she did not give her children the dignity of love and respect they deserved.”

“It would be disturbing to think that she may be using her abortions as a way to gain political favor with Democratic voters,” she added.

Horne told LifeSiteNews, whatever the circumstances, "no one should be surprised by Ms. Davis' abortions. Terminating the life of unborn children is her most prominent position, her cause; her stance on other issues vanished when she championed killing fully grown, unborn children.”

“She made her worldview perfectly clear without apology when she led the charge opposing the Texas pro-life law. There is no mystery about her views on abortion, and her own abortions are congruent with her position and rationale,” Horne told LifeSiteNews.

Other outside observers have commented on the timing of the book's release, which has political implications in a race that pits a pro-abortion Democratic woman versus the pro-life, male Abbott. Davis entered the gubernatorial race after famously engaging in an 11-hour filibuster to protest a ban on most late-term abortions in Texas.

“Voters look for a whole bunch of stuff in their candidate, but one key thing they look for is authenticity and another key thing they look for is relatability,” said Democratic strategist Harold Cook, according to the Times. “And I think on both counts, this helps her and might help her a lot. I would challenge you to find very many politicians in America willing to share that level of personal pain with voters. I think it takes a special brand of guts and bravery to do it at all.”

Former Texas Governor Mark W. White Jr. said that he hoped that the admission encourages "people who are not decided, independents, [to] stop and think again.”

In a statement reported by the New York Times, Austin Republican political consultant Matt Mackowiak was more critical, saying that "it’s one thing to bare your soul and put it in your memoir and hope that your own life is something that reaches other people. It’s another to have your campaign on ready alert, doing everything they can to maximize what is ultimately a tragic decision.”

Davis' past has been challenged before. In January, it was widely reported that her second ex-husband, Jeff Davis, said "she left" him one day after Jeff paid off her student loans from Harvard Law School. Those loans were paid because Davis “cashed in his 401(k) account and ... took out a loan to pay for her final year there.”

Likewise, a Davis supporter anonymously told the Dallas Morning News that the candidate “is tremendously ambitious.” The supporter said the state senator “[is] not going to let family or raising children or anything else get in her way.” He also described her as finding “a way to spin herself in a way that grabs at the heart strings. A lot of it isn't true about her.”

Davis has also described herself as "pro-life" since her filibuster.

Note: The original version of this article misattributed some of Sullenger's quotations to Horne and vice-versa. We regret the error.

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