Rick Perry made a statement on the topic of Joan Rivers’ death and I’m not sure what point he was trying to make.
Here’s the facts for background:
A law was enacted in Texas which tightened regulations on medical clinics. As a result many clinics closed down.
Joan Rivers died a few weeks ago. She suffered from complications while having a minor throat operation performed at a surgical clinic in New York.
Here’s Perry’s statement:* “It was interesting that when Joan Rivers, and the procedure that she had done, where she died – that was a clinic. And I’m just – 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.”*
So is Perry saying that New York needs more regulations on health care? And he’s holding up Texas as an example of how the government should be enacting more regulations? If so, that seems like an unusual position for a conservative politician to be taking. It’s certainly the first time I recall seeing an accusation against the Democrats (who are in power in New York) for not having enough regulations.
And, yes, I understand the context behind the Texas regulations. The clinics that were closed were mostly ones that performed abortions. But I’m not seeing any connection between Joan Rivers’ death and abortions.
Republicans like to pass regulations on clinics that specifically make it difficult or impossible to run clinics that offer abortion services, but they attempt to pass them off as generally applicable regulations necessary for the protection of their constituents (so as to not run afoul of Roe v Wade).
This is what Perry was doing. Attempting to justify these types of regulations.
He’s trying to say abortion clinics aren’t safe. I mean hell, if Joan Rivers can die from a simple throat surgery, then by all means, let’s have tougher regulations on abortion clinics!
Never mind that abortions are less invasive than throat surgery. And never mind the actual mortality rates of abortions in clinics compared to those abortions done outside of clinics. (As in home abortions)
But that’s the problem Perry is facing. If he just wants to be anti-abortion then he can present these regulations as being directed specifically against abortion clinics without being part of any wider program.
But Perry doesn’t want to narrow the focus down like that. He wants to maintain the fig leaf that his regulations were not designed to target abortion clinics. Which is putting him in the awkward position of having to defend government regulations in general.
The equivalent would be if the Texas legislature had enacted a special tax on abortions and Perry was trying to defend it with the argument that he generally supports higher taxes.
Which brings me back to my original question. Texas has enacted the regulations and the clinics have closed. The smart thing for a conservative to do now would be to never mention this subject again. A smart conservative would just maintain his general opposition to government regulation and keep silent about the time he used government regulations to shut down abortion clinics. But Perry didn’t do this. He apparently went out of his way to defend the regulations.
So I’m trying to figure out if Perry has some subtler aim here or if he just screwed up.
A judge recently halted the law, and Perry’s office is appealing the ruling, which is why he’s still talking about it, and still feels it necessary to stress the fiction that it isn’t meant as an anti-abortion measure.
Gov. Perry’s sister is a VP of a company that stands to make a lot of money if the bill stays in effect. Here’s a short article from the Houston Chronicle on this, and a slightly longer article from the Texas Observer.