The Values Voters Summit was held this weekend in the city politicians love to hate, Washington, D.C.. The winner was a famous conservative politician from Texas with the initials RP who also happens to- not be Rick Perry. So the narrative remains, a weak front runner in Mitt Romney vs. the “conservative alternative”. Rick Perry seemed to be that guy but after a couple of early blunders he failed to solidify the GOP primary as a two-man race. So how do these 2 Governors’ states match up on a crucial “Values Voters” issue of abortion?
One of Governor Perry’s most famous verbal faux pas came in a debate when he tried to label Mitt Romney a flip flopper on abortion.
We know Romney’s position has changed depending on what office he sought. We also know it is unlikely that Romney would have been elected Governor in 2002 at all if he had not pledged to “preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.” This prompted me to look into abortion and health statistics of both states to catch a glimpse of what “pro-life” means under these governors. The pro-life movement may find clues about electability vs. a pro-choice incumbent. To see Texas‘ and Massachusetts‘ current policies towards abortion follow each link. Here I will just show some basic comparisons of outcomes. All of my data came from the Guttmacher Inistitute.
First the abortion trends in each state compared to the national average:
The national average, as well both states, has actually been in decline since the the first few years after Roe V. Wade. Perry said in his address to the Values Voters Summit that, “There is no voter in America who is not a value voter, its just a question of who’s values they share.” Over the years Rick Perry has been a bellweather of conservative rhetoric and he may have hit on something here at least where Texas is concerned. This next chart could help explain Perry’s past success in Texas or even why Democrats struggle to be relevant in statewide elections. But the question remains how this can help him win the same voters in a national election.
Its interesting to note that white women in Texas have abortions at the national rate while minorities in Texas have them at half the national rate. This could suggest at least one of 2 things, that minorities are more conservative in Texas or they lack access to the procedure. A 3rd possibility exists that Texas’ stressing of abstinence education actual led to less abortions. This can be ruled out because Texas has the highest rate of teen pregnancy. In Texas teens may be having less abortions but they are not abstaining.
The most damning stat for Governor Romney’s claim to “pro-life” is the sheer amount of state funded abortions. This also presents a possible explanation of why minorities in Texas have abortions at half the rate of the nation.
The lack of public funds for abortion coupled with higher rates of teen pregnancy may also be a contributing factor to Texas having one of highest rates of uninsured children in the nation, while Massachusetts is among the lowest.
Even still Perry released this ad today attacking Mitt Romney over “Romneycare”.
Both will get another chance in front of voters Tuesday when the GOP candidates debate in New Hampshire. As for the Value Voters Summit their ballot has been cast.
Trend from Gallup of American views on abortion: