Anita Thigpen Perry, Rick Perry's Wife, Has Surprised Many With Her Views On Women's Rights

After much build-up, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry finally announced his candidacy for president in 2016 on Thursday. Perry's no stranger to the broader American public, as we got to know him during his presidential run in 2012. The woman by his side during that campaign, and who we will no doubt see more of in the coming months leading up to 2016, is his wife Anita Thigpen Perry, who's been outspoken about her husband's politics and their shared religious beliefs in the past.

Because she was relatively shy before her husband began his 2012 presidential campaign, there isn't much biographical information available for her, apart from her rather impressive career in the medical field. For several decades, Anita had quite a notable career as a nurse, before leaving the profession to pursue work related to politics. During her tenure with Haskell Memorial Hospital in Haskell, Texas, Anita rose to the level of director of nursing and also helped establish a rape crisis center.

After she left nursing, Perry continued to use her expertise in public health issues, while she served as a consultant with MEM Hubble Communications, a Texas-based PR firm. Before leaving the firm when Perry ran for governor, Anita advised Merck Pharmaceuticals on their public health program for osteoporosis screenings and also studied the health effects of emissions pollution.

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Anita and her husband are both devout Evangelical Christians, and it's known that she has some influence over her husband's political decisions. In particular, some have speculated that Perry had quite a bit to do with the former governor's support of a bill that would have mandated HPV vaccines for 6th grade girls in Texas. This stance was not popular with other conservatives, but the Perrys stood by the bill, even after it was later overturned.

While Anita is on the same page as her husband regarding many issues, she surprised many when she stated in 2013 that abortion is a woman's right, even though it isn't a right she would exercise herself. That's a tough line to walk, given that her husband has generally endorsed policies that do not support a pro-choice agenda.

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If she becomes first lady of the United States, it seems likely Anita will take up issues related to health care and possibly women's issues. Her track record of speaking out on these controversial topics would certainly suggest she is passionate about women's health. With so much happening with birth control and health insurance, a women's health agenda would keep her plenty busy in the White House.

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