Rick Perry‘s Hypocrisy: Dangerous to Women

Texas Governor Rick Perry doesn’t mind executing 234 prisoners — including the possibility of putting an innocent man to death — but woe to the woman who seeks an abortion.Blue Nude, c.1902 by Pablo Picasso

Perry’s willingness to sacrifice the lives of women in his pursuit of the White House was made amply clear this week when he announced he’d changed his mind about exceptions like rape, incest and the life of the mother to abortion. Always a staunch opponent of women’s reproductive rights, he announced he’d been “transformed” by an anti-abortion movie narrated by Mike Huckabee. CBS News’ Rebecca Kaplan covered the story:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry confirmed to a pastor on Tuesday that he no longer supports abortion in any cases, including rape.

“You’re seeing a transformation,” Perry told Joshua Verwers, the pastor of the Full Faith Christian Center, at an event in nearby Chariton, Iowa. The event was part of the governor’s ongoing effort to demonstrate his appeal to the Hawkeye State’s Christian conservatives.

Perry specifically said the film made him rethink the exceptions for rape and incest, though in his conversation with Verwers he did not mention the life of the mother, the traditional third exception that many who oppose abortion will allow.

The Personhood USA pledge leaves some wiggle room on the issue, saying, “I recognize that in cases where a mother’s life is at risk, every effort should be made to save the baby’s life as well; leaving the death of an innocent child as an unintended tragedy rather than an intentional killing.” The implication is that saving a mother’s life over her child might be the only acceptable case for an abortion.

But personhood laws are declaring the fetus as a person at fertilization, denying women the right to use birth control, obtain an abortion, use invitro fertilization embryos, the morning after pill, and other options that could save her life. Personhood laws effectively give the fetus more rights than a living, breathing, valuable woman who’s born children would suffer if she died. This raises the “rights” of a fetus higher than her born children, her husband and other family members who depend upon her for their wellbeing. Since women traditionally are the caretakers, this dependence could be aging parents, disabled friends and relatives, husbands or tiny children — all left bereft if she dies. Where’s the compassion for her and those who need her?

Perry’s callousness toward women and their dependents should not surprise us. ABC News reporter Arlette Saenz summarized his callous disregard toward prisoner right to life. He illegally executed Humberto Leal Garcia, a Mexican national denied access to the Mexican consulate — a right guaranteed by the Vienna Convention and upheld by our Supreme Court, and he knowingly and deliberately ignored the likelihood he sent an innocent man to his death:

Perry has authorized more executions than any governor in the history of the United States. He said at a Republican presidential debate Wednesday that he has never worried that the state of Texas has executed an innocent man. “I’ve never struggled with that at all.

… Perry’s most controversial death penalty case came in 2004 when Cameron Todd Willingham was executed for the murder of his three daughters in a fire that investigators ruled as arson.

While on the death row, scientists developed a report questioning the legitimacy of the evidence used against Willingham. Following Willingham’s execution, the Texas Forensic Commission ordered a re-examination of the case, and Craig Beyler, a fire scientist, examined the evidence and came to the same conclusion as other scientists: no evidence existed to conclude arson was committed.

Just before Beyler was to present his evidence to the commission, Perry replaced the chair of the commission, who cancelled the meeting. The commission’s work was never finalized, leaving many asking whether was an innocent man executed.

It should sicken us all this man is considered a serious candidate for president — and that his followers enthusiastically endorsed both his willingness to execute innocent men and force women to give birth even as they lay dying.

Art: Blue Nude, c.1902 by Pablo Picasso

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