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 of a Pro-Life Hero or a Disappointment.
Jason Villalba (R-Dallas), three-term state representative, suffers from a proclivity to self-promote in the media, and thereby draws attention to his imprudent and liberal voting record. His disastrous and comical presence on social media only cements his reputation as the House jester. In one case, the Dallas Morning News reported on his tweets against a conservative activist. The targets of his attacks are those who point out the inconsistencies between his campaign promises and his votes in the Texas House. Those inconsistencies and his failure on key Pro-Life issues have earned him a spot on Texas Right to Life’s 2017 Disappointments List.
The dishonorable list is reserved for those who have egregiously failed to protect the unborn, vulnerable, and disabled through votes, public statements, or other actions. Villalba has repeatedly refused to stand up for the rights of the vulnerable, not only in the 2017 85th sessions of the legislature, but in prior sessions as well. In 2015, he coauthored a bill (HB 2351) that would have expanded the authority of hospital committees to make discriminatory decisions against disabled patients and withdraw their medical treatment against the patient’s will. HB 2351 did not pass, but Villalba’s pattern of anti-Life ethics continued in 2017.
Even though Villalba campaigns as Pro-Life, he voted against a critical Pro-Life amendment to Senate Bill 8 in the regular session. Because of an insidious loophole, Texas Pro-Life laws do not protect unborn children with disabilities from late abortions, past the point when 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 liberal leadership in the Texas House over whom Villalba fawns, this gaping loophole is Texas law.
Representative Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) offered an amendment that would have closed this unjust loophole. Villalba sided with the anti-Life Democrats and Straus henchman, Byron Cook (who recently resigned in shame from the Texas House). In other words, Villalba opposed protecting unborn children with disabilities from discriminatory late abortions. 18 Republicans, including Jason Villalba, voted to kill Schaefer’s Pro-Life amendment, thereby leaving unborn babies with disabilities as prey in Texas abortion clinics.
Of all Villalba’s anti-Life actions during his time in the Texas House, his House Bill 1938 was the most outlandish and brazen. Authored by Villalba, HB 1938 sought to change Texas’ organ donation law to an opt-out system, meaning that all adults renewing or seeking a driver’s license would have to actively opt out of being an organ donor, rather than the current opt-in system. Although this seems like an innocuous change, hospitalized patients are often treated differently when they are organ donors, than patients who are not. Some patients who are organ donors are arbitrarily rendered too injured to heal, but their organs may be intact for harvesting. While advocating for patients, Texas Right to Life witnesses only minimal medical interventions to keep the organs stable and vital versus healing interventions or full trauma response. Additionally, medical staff tend to over-interpret the organ donor status as essentially a Do-Not-Resuscitate Order, or worse, that the patient rejects life-sustaining treatment.
Rather than talking with stakeholders and advocacy groups who contacted him repeatedly about HB 1938, Villalba doubled down, aggressively downplaying concerns in the committee hearing on this bill. In his opening statement, he acknowledged that the bill was “controversial,” but declared that the opposition “profits off the current system” and called them “profiteers,” dismissing legitimate concerns about his bill—all while demonstrating that he did not really know who profits from the organ harvesting industry. However, his most chilling, and revealing quote came during his closing statement, when he explained that most organs come from auto accidents and that as cars become equipped with more safety features, there would be fewer accidents (lamenting less supply of organs and oblivious to his crassness). He concluded that his bill was therefore necessary to ensure the availability of organs from would-be victims of automobile accidents.
Villalba’s lack of respect for the legitimate concerns to those who would be most impacted by his policies, his penchant for childish and public social media fights, and his refusal to protect our most vulnerable Texans have earned him a spot on Texas Right to Life’s 2017 Disappointments list.
Texas Right to Life has published Villalba’s full scorecard and the commentary on how he voted on each individual public vote scored by Texas Right to Life.