Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis speaks during a stop at Palo Alto College, Aug. 26, 2014, in San Antonio, Texas.
Eric Gay/AP

Wendy Davis shares circumstances of her abortions


Wendy Davis, Texas Democrat and gubernatorial candidate, breaks what is still a major taboo in her forthcoming memoir by telling her abortion stories — one an ectopic pregnancy, another a severe fetal anomaly.

Davis became famous for trying to block a restrictive abortion law in June 2013, when she filibustered for 11 hours and described having to terminate an ectopic pregnancy, which is never viable. But there was another story she told for the first time in her new book “Forgetting to Be Afraid,” copies of which were obtained by the San Antonio Express-News and the Associated Press Friday night.

She writes that the second procedure took place 17 years ago, in 1997, when she learned well into a wanted pregnancy that the fetus had a severe brain abnormality. “She was suffering,” Davis wrote, according to the reports. She and her then husband, Jeff, opted for a termination to end the suffering of the baby they named Tate.

“In our doctor’s office, with tears flowing down both our faces, Jeff and I looked at our baby daughter’s beating heart on the sonogram screen for the last time,” Davis wrote. “And we watched as our doctor quieted it. It was over. She was gone. Our much-loved baby was gone.” She goes on to describe delivering the stillborn baby through cesarean section and how she and Jeff spent a day holding and mourning her.

“An indescribable blackness followed. It was a deep, dark despair and grief, a heavy wave that crushed me, that made me wonder if I would ever surface … And when I finally did come through it, I emerged a different person. Changed. Forever changed,” Davis wrote.

One part of Texas’ omnibus abortion law bans abortions after 20 weeks, before when many fetal anomalies can be detected. Another part of the law has closed about half of the state’s abortion clinics.

Cecile Richards, in her capacity of president of Planned Parenthood Votes, which is backing Davis, said in a statement, “While no woman should have to justify her decision, abortion later in pregnancy is rare, and is often due to the same sort of tragic and heartbreaking circumstance that Wendy experienced — the kind of situation where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available. We are grateful to her for sharing her story and shining a light on a subject that is too often hidden in the shadows of shame and stigma by people like [Republican gubernatorial candidate] Greg Abbott and his allies.”

The Associated Press reported that Texas Right to Life spokeswoman Melissa Conway said Friday, “That’s an incredibly difficult position for anyone to find themselves in. While our heart goes out for the decision she had to make, again, still the value of life is precious.”

On Saturday, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas Executive Director Heather Busby added that “Wendy Davis’s personal story resonates with bravery and honesty, and it is one of many. Every pregnancy is different and all options must be available to ensure the health and safety of families, without lawmakers making decisions that don’t belong to them.”

Davis is the second candidate this year to openly discuss terminating a pregnancy. Nevada Lt. Gov. candidate Lucy Flores has also been open about having an abortion as a teen.