Rick Perry Cites Joan Rivers’s Death to Defend Restrictive Texas Abortion Law

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As Texas Governor Rick Perry told reporters when his wife accidentally declared abortion is a woman’s right, “From time to time we’ll stick the wrong word in the wrong place, and you pounce upon it.” Sure enough, he did it again on Sunday. During an interview at the Texas Tribune Festival, Perry was asked about HB2, the Texas law that could close half of the state’s abortion clinics by requiring them to meet the standards of ambulatory surgery clinics. “Clearly, the will of the Texas Legislature — which I agree with — that it is a state’s right to put particular types of considerations into place, to put rules and regulations into place, to make a clinic be as safe as a hospital,” the governor said. “It was interesting that, when Joan Rivers, and the procedure that she had done where she died, that was a clinic. It’s a curious thought that if they had had that type of regulations in place, whether or not that individual would be still alive.”

Perry stuck a number of wrong words in the wrong place — and not just those that use Rivers’s death to defend a law she almost certainly would have opposed. The 81-year-old comedian stopped breathing earlier this month during a procedure on her vocal cords. The exact circumstances of her death are still unclear, but as The Guardian notes, the Yorkville Endoscopy Center where Rivers was treated actually is an ambulatory surgery center.

The reality is that complications happen in all areas of medicine,” responded Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. “There’s risk inherent in just about anything. You could have a heart attack and die while having your wisdom teeth removed. Should we outlaw wisdom teeth removal?”

Okay, so the medical complications experienced by one elderly New York woman don’t say much about the risks facing young Texans who choose to undergo a completely unrelated procedure — but doesn’t it feel like they should? In the Texas governor’s defense, the claim does have an air of truthiness about it.