Conventional wisdom stipulates that elected officials’ wives should be supportive and uncontroversial. Nevertheless, when it comes to the subject of abortion, some spouses can’t help but drop the “stand by your man” act and instead stand up for a woman’s right to choose.
We’re not talking small time politicians either. When even the wives of the some of the most prominent anti-choice politicians don’t support their positions, it really highlights the fact that men probably shouldn’t be left in charge of legislating women’s bodies.
Here are six spouses of notable anti-choice Republicans who have publicly acknowledged their support for Roe v. Wade. While many of the women indicate that they would never personally choose to have an abortion, they do respect that it is in fact a choice for each woman to make herself:
1. Anita Perry
This week, Anita made headlines when she opposed her husband’s extreme anti-abortion policies as the governor of Texas. “I see it as a woman’s right,” Anita said in an interview. “If they want to do that, that is their decision. It is not mine, it is not something that I would say for them.”
Meanwhile, rather than agreeing to disagree, her spouse Rick Perry tried to restate Anita’s opinion for her. “From time to time, we’ll stick the wrong word in the wrong place, and you [the media] pounce upon it,” Rick said. Still, it’s hard to see how Anita’s words could have been misspoken or misinterpreted.
2. Barbara Bush
Many mistake Barbara for being anti-choice thanks to her son, George W. He infamously claimed that he developed his stance against abortion after seeing a miscarried fetus Barbara kept in a jar. Some suspect the jar anecdote to be a myth, but even if Barbara did keep such a thing, it wasn’t designed for that purpose.
For most of the time her anti-choice husband, George H.W., was in office, Barbara kept quiet about her views on abortion. However, in an interview just before the 1992 election, Barbara called abortion a “personal choice.” She added, “Any moral superiority bothers me on either side, and I’ve certainly seen it on both.”
3. Laura Bush
Barbara’s daughter-in-law Laura also takes a different stance from her presidential husband on abortion. On the morning of her spouse’s first inauguration, she said was not in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade.
It’s an opinion she still held ten years later despite her husband’s vocal opposition. In a conversation on abortion with Larry King, Laura said, “I think it’s important that it remain legal.”
4. Cindy McCain
While current Senator and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned, his wife Cindy told Katie Couric that she did not agree.
Though Cindy comes across pretty wishy-washy in the interview as she tries to declare her personal feelings without stepping on her husband’s toes, when her spokespeople had the chance to later clarify and potentially backtrack on Cindy’s stance on abortion, they instead affirmed Cindy’s belief in a woman’s right to choose.
5. Diana Cantor
Her husband, Eric, may be one of the most prominent Republican faces in the nation as the current House Majority Leader, but Diana still clings to some of the socially liberal values she held before meeting him.
In a 60 Minutes interview, Diana confirms she not only supports same-sex marriage, but a woman’s right to choose. “I do disagree [with Eric]… If I expect him to respect my views that could be different, I certainly need to respect his,” she says.
6. Nancy Reagan
Though her husband Ronald was known for his firm anti-choice stance, the former First Lady gave her own opinion in a lecture at George Washington University in 1994. “I’m against abortion,” Nancy said. “On the other hand, I believe in a woman’s choice.”
The revelation was not a total surprise as she had been quoted as saying, “I don’t give a damn about the pro-lifers” while urging her husband to skip the topic of abortion in his State of the Union address.
What do you think? Is it time conservative politicians started paying more attention to their wives’ opinions?
Photo credits: Anita Perry by Dell, Barbara Bush by Lauren Gerson, Laura Bush by Krisanna Johnson, Cindy McCain by Craig O'Neal, Diana Cantor by the office of Cynthia Lummis, and Nancy Reagan by United States Congress.