Wendy Davis, who rose to national fame by waging an unsuccessful filibuster of a restrictive abortion bill in the Texas state senate, reveals in an upcoming memoir that she terminated a pregnancy 17 years ago after discovering the baby had a severe brain abnormality, according to news reports.

Davis, who is the Democratic nominee for governor in Texas, said she made the decision after doctors told her that the baby, a girl that she named Tate, would be in a permanent vegetative state, if she survived.

“I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do,” Davis reportedly writes. “She was suffering.”

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The San Antonio Express, which has a copy of the book, described Davis’s reaction to the 1997 procedure, in which she said the doctor “quieted” the baby’s heart and delivered her by C-section.

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Davis wrote that she and her then-husband, Jeff, spent time with Tate the next day and had her baptized. They cried, took photographs and said their good-byes, she wrote, and Tate’s lifeless body was taken away the following day.
“An indescribable blackness followed. It was a deep, dark despair and grief, a heavy wave that crushed me, that made me wonder if I would ever surface… And when I finally did come through it, I emerged a different person. Changed. Forever changed,” Davis wrote.

Davis also writes in the book, “Forgetting to Be Afraid,” about a second procedure to terminate a pregnancy in which the egg had implanted in her fallopian tube.

It was in June of last year that Davis, sporting red running shoes, took to the floor of the Texas Senate and held forth for 13 hours in an effort to defeat a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and require stricter standards for abortion clinics and doctors who perform the procedures. The bill passed, but earlier this week a federal judge struck down portions of the law, agreeing with abortions rights advocates that the measures created unconstitutional barriers to abortions in some areas of the state.

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The 51-year-old state senator reportedly writes in the book that she considered talking about the pregnancies during her filibuster, but was concerned that it would detract from her fight to block the bill.

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Davis’s Republican opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is a staunch opponent of abortion. She is trailing him in the polls and in fundraising.

The book, which goes on sale Tuesday, also revisits Davis’s boot-strap biography, which caused her campaign grief earlier this year when she was accused of embellishing her life story to bolster her narrative of a struggling single mother who rose from living in a trailer to the halls of power in Texas.

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Her spokesman Zac Petkanas told the Associated Press that the book is “a bold and brave memoir that is less about politics than it is a stunningly frank personal story.”

Davis is not the only female politician to reveal that she had an abortion for medical reasons. In 2011 Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), during a heated House debate on defunding Planned Parenthood, told her colleagues that she had had the procedure because of serious complications with the pregnancy. Speier made her remarks because she thought a male colleague had suggested that women “cavalierly” make the decision to have abortions.

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