In conjunction with the 2017 Pro-Life Scorecard for the Regular and Special Sessions of the 85th Texas Legislature, Texas Right to Life published a 2017 Pro-Life Heroes list and a 2017 Disappointments List, highlighting specific legislators. This article is part of an ongoing series to explain how specific elected officials earned the title as a Pro-Life Hero or a Disappointment.
Ernest Bailes, the representative from House District 18 in Shephed, is the only freshman legislator who made the 2017 Disappointments List; he earned an abysmal 42% score on the Pro-Life Scorecard, a remarkable failure for his first term in the Legislature. Even worse, Bailes campaigned as a Pro-Life candidate.
The low score earned by Bailes was due in part to his public opposition to various Pro-Life amendments to Senate Bill 1, the state budget bill for the 2018-2019 biennium. The House floor debate over the budget and hundreds of amendments dragged on past midnight. Through a parliamentary procedure, some of the amendments were moved all together—a step that preserved the amendments so they could be added to the State Budget later in the process, but the same step helps to kill unwanted or controversial amendments.
If any member wants to register a position on any of these amendments, he or she can go to the Office of the House Clerk and add a written statement to the official Journal of the Texas House. Bailes must have worn a path there as he registered opposition to six different Pro-Life amendments.
Through journal statements, Bailes stated he would have voted against prohibiting state funding of research that destroys human embryos, against prohibiting state funds used to buy or conduct research on the bodies of aborted children, against prohibiting state funding for abortion providers and their affiliates, and against funding for the Healthy Texas Women Program. Bailes worked overtime to oppose these Pro-Life amendments that never even had a vote on the floor of the Texas House.
No other Republican, except for the proudly pro-abortion Sarah Davis, registered against so many Pro-Life amendments. This deliberate act of opposing Pro-Life policies earned Bailes penalties on the Pro-Life Scorecard. Many anti-Life Democratic members didn’t even go so far as to take this additional action.
As if Bailes’ budget fiasco was not a strong attack on Life, he also opposed protecting unborn children with disabilities from abortion. Texas Pro-Life laws include a loophole that allows unborn children with disabilities to be aborted after 20 weeks, the point at which these precious babies can feel the torturous pain of the procedure. The state protects all other unborn children from abortion after 20 weeks, but due to Byron Cook, who recently resigned in shame from the Texas House and who ranks on the Disappointments List with Bailes, this gaping loophole is Texas law.
Representative Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) offered an amendment to Senate Bill 8 that would have closed this unjust loophole. Bailes sided with the anti-Life Democrats and Straus henchman, Byron Cook, and opposed granting unborn children with disabilities protection from discriminatory late abortions. The motion to table the Schaefer amendment succeeded, stopping this life-saving amendment from consideration. 18 Republicans, including Ernest Bailes, voted to kill Schaefer’s Pro-Life amendment and, thereby, voted to kill unborn babies with disabilities in late abortions.
Bailes made sure to clarify his anti-Life position by going to the clerk’s office yet again for another shocking statement in the House Journal to justify his vote, claiming “convictions beyond mere policy or principle” and that he “cannot in good faith dictate to another individual how they should cope with such a scenario.” Bailes earned a ten-point penalty on the scorecard—a demerit usually awarded for outspoken pro-abortion Democrats.
For a Republican member who campaigned as Pro-Life, Bailes’ consistent refusal to protect Life proves that he is a Pro-Life fraud. The constituents of HD 18 deserve a legislator who will truly represent their values and will fulfill campaign promises to actively take stances for Life.
Click for Bailes’ full scorecard, see the commentary on his first session and how he voted on each individual Pro-Life public vote scored by Texas Right to Life.