A new political ad targeting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) starts with a scene that could unfold in any hospital across the country — a doctor delivering gutting news to an expectant couple: “Your baby has a catastrophic brain abnormality.”
“She will suffer,” the doctor adds, before telling the tearful parents that a decision will have to be made on terminating the pregnancy — a choice that “only one person can make.”
“And that person is Greg,” the doctor explains, revealing a portrait of Abbott.
The ad released Monday by political action committee Mothers Against Greg Abbott criticizes Texas abortion laws. Even before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Texas’s “heartbeat act” — which banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — was among the most restrictive in the country, relying on ordinary citizens to report suspected violations. A “trigger law” banning abortions, with few exceptions, is set to take effect next month. As a result, clinics in the state have shut down, health providers are wary of providing certain medical interventions and some mothers have been left feeling “like a walking coffin” after suffering miscarriages, The Washington Post has reported.
A spokesperson for Abbott didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post early Thursday. The Mothers Against Greg Abbott political action committee released another ad earlier this month criticizing Texas policies on guns, the pandemic and education. The group says it includes mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts and grandparents “ready to fight” for change in their state.
The abortion ad mixes distress with dark humor, positing that reproductive health choices in Texas are now up to the state, leaving the parents-to-be utterly confused.
“Greg?” the woman in the ad says. Who’s Greg?! her partner asks, using a slightly more profane turn of phrase when the physician tells them only Greg can decide the next steps.
Then the doctor, wielding a red phone with a direct line to Abbott, has a brief conversation with the governor. With a shrug, the doctor proceeds to tell the parents: “Yeah, that’s going to be a no. Best of luck to you.”
The ad ends with a close-up of the stunned couple and a question splashed on the screen: “Whose choice should it be?”
Though sardonic in essence, the scene portrayed in the ad has resounded with some doctors. Jennifer Gunter, an OB/GYN and New York Times contributor, posted when sharing the video that she once called a state legislator for permission to perform an abortion in the 1990s.
“This is not a hypothetical people,” she added.
Since it was released, some candidates have cited the ad to persuade Texans to vote for Democrats who support abortion rights. Beto O’Rourke, who’s running against Abbott in what polls suggest is a tightening gubernatorial race, says he’ll “fight for Texas women to have the freedom to decide what is best for their health, family, and future.”
Still, others have called the video “poorly executed,” including one woman who received a terminal diagnosis when pregnant but chose to carry to term. “I’m left wondering if whoever wrote it has ever experienced a fatal diagnosis. And if they did, was their doctor this callous?” the woman shared on Twitter.
In response, Chelsea Aldrich, the video’s director, said the clip was based on the “real story about another real mother who chose to terminate.”
“This is not a judgment on any woman’s choice. It’s a referendum on lack of choice,” Aldrich wrote.