Perry’s Abortion Stance Gets Even More Extreme

2012 Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/5855964036/">Gage Skidmore</a>/Flickr


Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum have all endorsed Personhood USA’s pledge to grant full rights to fertilized eggs if they are elected president. And in a radio forum sponsored by the group in Iowa this week, Perry elaborated more fully on how far he’d go to limit abortion.

Perry previously said that he thought there should be exceptions to an all-out ban on abortion for rape, incest, or cases where the life of the mother is at risk. But now he says he’s changed his mind; even women who are raped should be forced to carry to term. He says he underwent a “transformation” after seeing a film about a woman who was conceived by rape:

[Pastor Joshua] Verwers asked Perry about his signature on a pledge from the anti-abortion group Personhood USA that requires candidates to oppose abortion for any reason. Verwers said Perry told him at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition dinner in October that he did support abortion in certain cases.

What brought about the change? Perry said he was moved by a woman he met who appeared in former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s movie, “The Gift of Life,” which he screened in Des Moines on Dec. 14. The woman has been conceived during a rape, and Perry said she told him, “My life has worth.”

He described the moment as “powerful.” The next day, he signed the Personhood USA pledge. 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.

Perry also said he would defy the Supreme Court if it struck down a law giving full rights to zygotes under the 14th Amendment if it were deemed unconstitutional.

If Perry’s poll numbers are any indication, at least we won’t have to worry about him making good on that promise anytime soon.

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.