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Wendy Davis Talks About Pot, Abortion And Her Personal Story

The Texas Tribune

She’s the likely Democratic nominee for Texas governor, but inquiring minds are asking: Where does Wendy Davis stand on medical marijuana? Abortion? And did she really fudge the details of her life story? She’s been making the rounds to clear all that up, including a profile that runs in The New York Times this weekend.

When the state senator from Fort Worth dropped by The Dallas Morning News for a visit this week, she told the editorial board she personally supports medical marijuana, but didn’t know where the state stood on it as a population.

“I think it’s important to be deferential to whether the state of Texas feels that it’s ready for that,” she said.

Although it’s been nearly 100 years since the state made marijuana illegal, the fight to legalize it continues, as KERA has reported. Davis said she would consider decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, but she wasn’t sure about how she would personally vote on the issue as a private citizen.

“From a philosophical position, do I have any objections to the fact that citizens might want to legalize marijuana? No, I don’t,” she said. “But I think watching to see how this experiment plays out in other states is probably advisable before I could tell you for sure.”

Davis on abortion

Davis-watchers might think her stance on abortion would be pretty obvious – remember that filibuster last summer to stop one of the strictest anti-abortion bills in the nation? – but she told the News' editorial board she would have supported a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy if the law had given priority to women.

“My concern, even in the way the 20-week ban was written in this particular bill, was that it didn’t give enough deference between a woman and her doctor making this difficult decision, and instead tried to legislatively define what it was,” she said.

Last summer, Davis talked with KERA’s Shelley Kofler about her personal approach to the abortion issue. Davis has talked about how her circumstances as a young single mother made family planning an important issue for her. She relied on Planned Parenthood for health care.

Kofler asked Davis: “Did you ever personally consider an abortion?  Would it ever have been something you as a young woman would have thought about?”

Davis responded: “That is obviously a very deeply personal question. When I was 18 and expecting, I made a decision to have a beautiful child who I’m very proud to have raised. She’s 30 years old now, and she’s a tremendous joy in my life.

“What I had the opportunity to do from that point, though, was to have good decision-making about what I would do going forward and again accessing those services that were provided to me by that clinic on Henderson Street and to prevent an unplanned pregnancy was something I took advantage of. And I am very pleased I had that ability.”

Her biography

A News piece last month kicked up controversy about whether the state senator from Fort Worth had discrepancies in her biography. Reportshave suggested that Davis embellishedher personal story of being a single teen motherwho escaped poverty by working hard and eventually getting a law degree.

In this coming Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, in a piece titled "Can Wendy Davis Have It All?" Robert Draper asked her whether running for Texas governor was an invitation for people to scrutinize her personal life.

“Sure, I think it’s absolutely fair to take a look at it, I do,” [Davis] said. “But I think there also needs to be a responsibility to fairly report and make sure you thoroughly understand things before they’re reported,” she continued, referring to the [Dallas Morning News’] claim that she lost custody of her daughter. “And what happened here, in my opinion, was there was a distortion of the reality.” What Davis found particularly galling, she said, was “the allegation that I abandoned my children. And it’s important for me that people understand that that was not the case.”

Draper also brought up the conflicting accounts about her time at Harvard and how often she visited her children then. Davis had this to say:

“Of course, I would expect people who are inclined to think negatively about me to pick on something like this. Do I think it’s reasonable? No. Do I think that I’m being held to a different standard than a man who would be in this exact same race with the exact same story might be? Yes. But that’s reality, and I don’t spend time worrying about it.” She continued, “And it really is, I think, rather absurd that we’ve spent so much time picking over details of my biography.”

But as Davis wades further into the Texas governor’s race, she’ll face more probing by critics and her Republican opponents. 

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.