At the 2013 Texas Tribune Festival, a three-day festival focusing on Texan politics and public policy hosted at University of Texas at Austin, First Lady Anita Perry spoke candidly about women's abortion rights to Texas Tribune editor-in-chief Evan Smith.
Just few months ago, her husband Gov. Rick Perry signed a highly controversial law restricting abortion practices for women in Texas. The law bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and restricts abortions to surgical centers. It also requires doctors who work at abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges. Only 5 of the 42 abortion clinics in Texas currently meet these requirements; the others will have to comply by October or shut down.
But the first lady's thoughts seemed at odds with her husband's:
"I see [abortion] as a woman's right. If they want to do that, that is their decision," Perry said to Smith (starts at about the 2:20 mark). "They have to live with that decision."
Smith did a double-take and asked again if Perry said she believed abortion was a woman's decision and right.
"It's not mine, it's not something that I would say for them," Perry responded. "I think it goes back to the states and Texas has decided that no, that is not what we want in the states."
But later she turned around and said, "Yeah that could be a woman's right just like it's a man's right if he wants to have some kind of procedure."
The first lady may believe abortion to be a woman's right, but she does not realize that exercising that right will be next-to-impossible given the new law. Texan women will find it more difficult to get access to safe abortion services, forcing them to resort to more dangerous practices with only a few clinics open for business. So much for the "health of Texan women". When Smith asked if Perry believed the law of the state to be respectful of the rights of individuals to make these individual choices, she simply replied "That's the law of the state."