(CNN) – The Texas state senator who filibustered a measure placing strict new curbs on abortion was operating outside the normal procedures for passing legislation, the state's Republican Gov. Rick Perry asserted Thursday.
Perry also claimed Democrat Wendy Davis was ignoring her own past as
the daughter of a single mother in her bid to prevent abortion rights
from being restricted in the Lone Star State.
"I'm all about honest, open debate," Perry said at a national "Right to Life" convention in Dallas. "Parliamentary tactics are certainly nothing new. But what we witnessed Tuesday was nothing more than the hijacking of the Democratic process. And this is simply too important a cause to allow the unruly actions of a few to stand in its way."
Davis stood and spoke for 13 hours Tuesday to prevent a vote on a measure that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, as well as placing tight new standards on abortion providers.
At 3 a.m. Wednesday, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst stepped to the Senate floor to declare the bill dead and the special session over, though Perry announced later he was calling the legislature back into session to continue considering the bill.
Davis, who wasn't permitted to sit down or speak off-topic, became a hero to supporters of abortion rights nationwide. Her biography – the child of a single mother, who after having her own child at 19 worked her way through community college and Harvard Law – was cited an example of perseverance in the face of enormous obstacles.
But Perry argued Thursday that biography should instead have provided the Democratic lawmaker guidance in her personal views on abortion.
"The fact is, who are we to say that children born into the worst of circumstances can't grow to live successful lives?" Perry said. "In fact, even the woman who filibustered in the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman. She was a teenage mother herself. She managed eventually to graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It's just unfortunate 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."
Responding to those remarks later Thursday, Davis said Perry's statement lacked "dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds.
"They are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view," she continued. "Our governor should reflect our Texas values. Sadly, Gov. Perry fails that test."
Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, also reacted sharply to Perry's speech.
"Rick Perry's remarks are incredibly condescending and insulting to women," Richards said. "This is exactly why the vast majority of Texans believe that politicians shouldn't be involved in a woman's personal health care decisions. Women are perfectly capable of deciding whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child, and they don't need Rick Perry's help making that decision."