Rick Perry, Carole Strayhorn, Chris Bell, Kinky Friedman on abortion

This post by Lone Star Pundit details our gubernatorial candidates on abortion-banning trigger bill. That is, if the Supreme Court were to hold that the right to have an abortion is not a fundamental human right [essentially the standard for substantive due process], then this bill would then ban abortion.

I get decent amounts of hits from googlers who are querying about individual candidate's abortion positions, so I'll try to answer them.

I'm going to summarize quickly, and then excerpt LSP after the jump.

Rick Perry has been consistently pro-life.
Chris Bell has been consistently pro-choice.
Kinky Friedman is pro-choice, but pulled a reverse-Mitt Romney when he said he would sign a trigger bill banning abortion. I have no idea whether to view that statement as predictive of what he'd do if elected.
Carole Strayhorn has been reported as pro-choice without any complaint from her, then she waffled, then she was firmly pro-life, and now she seems to be prevaricating again. I think it's fair to say that no one really knows what she'd do.

As promised, here is Lone Star Pundit:

Of the four major candidates, Democrat Chris Bell's response to Patrick's announcement was probably the least surprising. Plain and simple, Bell is a liberal Democrat, through and through:

"I would veto that," Bell told The Associated Press on Friday. "I think the majority of Texans are still pro-choice."

Incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry, who is facing a lot of unrest and even opposition from Republican voters this fall, was somewhat less straightforward in his response to the proposed trigger law.

"It's hard to comment on a specific bill that hasn't even been written," said [Perry campaign] spokesman Robert Black. "The governor would certainly want to see the bill."

To my knowledge, Carole Keeton Strayhorn's camp has not yet made any comments on the subject, other than the brief sentence in the AP article that she, like Perry, opposes abortion "except in instances of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother." The only problem with this is that Strayhorn's politics have tended to wander through the years, from her liberal Democrat roots to a more populist version of a Republican stance to often straddling the fence, carefully avoiding any revealing policy statements. A recent Houston Chronicle bit of research tried to chronicle her political party switches and wavering stances on various issues. On the abortion issue, this is what they found:

1985: "She refused to discuss her position on abortion." -- Austin American-Statesman
"She has been pro-choice on abortion, although she now says she opposes abortion personally and would rule out tax dollars for its practice, except in cases of rape incest or where the mother's life is threatened." -- Christian Science Monitor

1990s: Signed pledges for the Republican National Coalition for Life to oppose abortion and told Greater Austin Right to Life that she supported overturning the Supreme Court decision allowing abortions.

Now: "I have made my position very clear. As a mama and a grandmama, I believe in the sanctity of life, but I understand that there are those heartbreaking situations where heartbreaking decisions have to be made."

So in other words, who knows what Grandma really thinks?

The real surprising response was the one offered just this week by independent candidate Kinky Friedman, who is surprisingly still very much in the gubernatorial race at this point. Friedman is publicly pro-choice, which is affirmed by his campaign website. However, in a radio interview with Dan Patrick on Wednesday afternoon, Kinky was asked what he would do if (1) he were elected governor, and (2) Patrick's proposed trigger law legislation were passed. Friedman's first reaction was simply, "Well, I'm running for governor, not to play God." But when pressed by Patrick as to whether he would sign or veto such a law, Friedman said that he would sign it.

Posted by Evan @ 09/26/06 12:53 AM


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Evan, first of all, thanks for the link to LSP.

I have to agree with your summary: Perry has been consistently pro-life; Bell has been consistently anti-life... er, pro-choice; there's no telling WHAT Grandma will do (I mean, she's a career Austin politician running on a platform of "Let's bring change to Austin and get rid of the career politicians," for goodness' sake!); and despite the fact that I liked Kinky's answer to Dan Patrick on the trigger law topic I wouldn't lay odds on him sticking to that. He's been too erratic, and despite a few conservative hot-topics the guy is squarely in the liberal camp on the majority of social issues.

I have to say, though, that I've been extremely disappointed with Gov. Perry on his lack of support for several key conservative issues lately (tax cuts, lowering appraisal caps, border security). And the fact that he simply refuses to comment on a possible anti-abortion trigger bill doesn't help his recent reputation.

Posted by Kyle @ 09/26/06 09:20 AM

Rick Perry was pro-choice when he was a Democrat and even early on at the Agriculture Commission. You can check out stories by Dave McNeely on it back in the early 90s. His position mirrored Kay Bailey Hutchison's back then. Perry's flipped on the issue of abortion.

Posted by jim c @ 09/26/06 02:06 PM

rick perry has been pro-life his whole political career. in fact, he has has a hand in all the major advances on the life issues -- he passed parental notification through the senate as lt. gov, and as governor he passed and signed parental consent, informed consent, the unborn victims of violence act.... you get the picture. for the life of me, i can't understand how anyone would think someone would promise to sign a bill that hasn't even been written yet. the pro-life community knows what a great friend they have in rick perry.

Posted by sally @ 09/26/06 08:50 PM


opps, why was I thinking that?

(Maybe casue no one every lasts more that 8)

But realistically, I can't see Perry running again for governor

Posted by EricPWJohnson @ 09/26/06 09:45 PM

Sally is right, of course. There are no term limits on Texas governors.

Posted by evan @ 09/27/06 12:00 AM

Oops, I put this in the wrong post.

Posted by evan @ 09/27/06 12:03 AM

So did I,

Thanks for the thread Evan.

Posted by EricPWJohnson @ 09/28/06 10:13 AM

Does anybody have a direct quote from Kinky in this interview? The LSP article is frustratingly vague, and AP has the opposite position with a quote


Posted by Nate @ 09/28/06 09:43 PM

I really wish that these candidates would have the guts to stand up for what they believe in. Even though I am very pro-life, I applaud Bell the most for being straightforward about his stance on abortion rather than tiptoeing around trying not to offend anyone. It really makes me question why these people are even in the running for Governor! It seems like some candidates aren't taking this very seriously. Abortion is a huge issue, and the voters need to know exactly what they're voting for.

Posted by Rachel @ 10/10/06 02:26 PM

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