AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A leading anti-abortion group is launching a bilingual radio advertising campaign in South Texas branding Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis an "abortion zealot," as she kicks off her highly anticipated run for governor.
The 60-second spots sponsored by Texas Right to Life are scheduled to hit the airwaves this weekend. Turnout among female voters, especially in heavily Hispanic areas that tend to be Democratic-leaning but also feature a lot of opposition to abortion, could play a key role in deciding next year's governor's race.
It was not immediately clear exactly where the ads will air or for how long — and there was no information on how much the campaign will cost. Right to Life spokeswomen in Texas and Washington could not provide further details Thursday.
"This past summer, Republicans and Democratic state legislators passed limits on second and third trimester abortions when babies are fully formed," the ad proclaims. "Extremist groups protested this new law and rallied around abortion zealot State Senator Wendy Davis."
It says Davis "even called late term abortions 'sacred ground.'"
Davis rocketed to national political stardom in June, when she staged a nearly 13-hour filibuster that temporarily blocked strict new limits on abortion in Texas. They eventually passed the Republican-controlled Legislature by a wide margin, however.
Davis announced her 2014 gubernatorial bid Thursday evening in the same gym outside Fort Worth where she received her high school diploma. A Democrat hasn't won statewide office in Texas since 1994 and Davis is an underdog — but her filibuster has energized her party.
The law she tried to block restricts abortions to surgical centers and requires doctors who work at abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges. Abortion rights activists say it will force all but a handful of clinics that provide the service in the nation's second-largest state to close.
The law also bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Gov. Rick Perry has been in office since George W. Bush left the Texas governor's mansion for the White House in December 2000 but isn't seeking re-election. Abortion promises to dominate the race since the likely Republican gubernatorial nominee, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, has made his fierce opposition to abortion a centerpiece of his campaign.
The radio campaign accuses Davis of putting "late term abortion ahead of our faith, ahead of our families, and ahead of Texas values."
"Wendy Davis is wrong on life, wrong for our children, and wrong for Texas," it says.