What If Your Mother Had Aborted You?
Well, since Rick Perry brought it up, I’ll answer.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is a plainspoken man, but on Thursday he waded into an ageless existential debate. Speaking to the National Right to Life conference, Perry pointed out that state Sen. Wendy Davis—who filibustered at the Texas Capitol for 13 hours on Tuesday to block a draconian abortion bill—was born to a single mother and became a teen mother herself, yet overcame those “difficult circumstances” to attend Harvard Law School and enter politics. “It is just unfortunate,” Perry said to his base, “that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.”
“Every life matters” may scan elsewhere as an uncontroversial sentiment, but at the National Right to Life conference, you can be sure that life is defined as a zygote, embryo, or fetus granted full personhood. Which means that Perry is using a kind of transitive property: Wendy Davis was once a zygote, and Wendy Davis matters; therefore, every zygote matters.
Jessica Winter is executive editor of newyorker.com and a former editor at Slate and Time. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Bookforum, The Believer, and many other publications. She lives with her family in Flatbush, Brooklyn.