As much as people like to suggest that Texas Governor Rick Perry is a person of questionable political abilities, he showed a bit of savvy this morning while signing into law the state's controversial new abortion restrictions. The stage behind him was filled with women.
Here's the scene, shared on Twitter by Jessica Vess of Austin ABC affiliate KVUE.
Perry now signing abortion bill pic.twitter.com/RVZfz785Pd— Jessica Vess (@JessicaV_KVUE) July 18, 2013
Perhaps not a lot of diversity in other respects, but lots of women. Maybe even half.
Perry's predecessor as governor of the state provided perhaps the all-time best illustration of why this is important. When he signed into law the 2003 federal ban on partial-birth abortions, President Bush was ringed by nine male members of Congress, all beaming down at him happily.
Photo Via Wikipedia.
Since, women-spotting at similar events has become the norm. When House Republicans held hearings and press conferences on abortion earlier this year, ThinkProgress was quick to note the dearth of female representatives involved. Even we have had fun with this phenomenon: When the Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony on sexual assault in the military, we helpfully pointed out all the women involved in the hearing.
The reason for this is obvious. Politics is an industry dominated by men, for reasons far more numerous and complex than are worth getting into here. But with only 81 women in the House, for example—only 19 of whom are Republican—assembling gender-diverse groups gets tricky.
In fact, Perry's support group today was far more diverse than that displayed outside of the signing ceremony. A group of protesters carrying signs criticizing the bill and the governor was almost exclusively female.
The crowd outside the auditorium is now chanting "the blood of TX women is on your hands" pic.twitter.com/sgQSz5x7gP— Jessica Vess (@JessicaV_KVUE) July 18, 2013
The reason for this is probably obvious, too.
Photo: Protestors at the Texas State Capitol earlier this month. (AP)