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.
Ken King (R-Canadian) is a textbook example of a split political personality: Someone who campaigns to his rural district as a Pro-Life conservative but governs as the fourth most liberal Republican in the Texas House. King earned an embarrassing score on the Pro-Life scorecard, and the anti-Life leadership in the Texas House rewarded King’s behavior. For his prioritization of power and politics over policy, his attacks on free speech, and his opposition to a critical Pro-Life amendment, Ken King earned a spot on Texas Right to Life’s 2017 Disappointments List.
During his first session in the Legislature, King co-authored the anti-Life House Bill 1444, a bill that was sold as a bill to protect patients’ rights, but would have codified the right of a hospital to force a Do-Not-Resuscitate Order on any patients against their will. The bill would have also expanded the current Texas Advance Directives Law by giving more power to hospital committees to withdraw life-sustaining treatment from patients, including food and water. If this had been King’s only offense, one could argue that his co-authorship was a freshman blunder; however, during this most recent session of the Legislature, he proved his true beliefs.
During the 2017 Sessions of the 85th Legislature, King was appointed to the House Committee on State Affairs, a powerful committee that determines the fate of all Pro-Life bills in the House. The assignment was a great opportunity to advocate for the passage of Pro-Life bills, as well as to vocally participate in hearings for Pro-Life policies. King demonstrated no interest in shepherding these important policies; instead, he used his powerful position to advance two of his own bills to restrict the free speech of Texans. One sought to carve out special legal protection for legislators facing public criticism for their votes, chilling the attempts of voters and grassroots leaders from holding elected officials accountable. King’s second bill would have forced journalists to disclose their sources, a thinly veiled attempt at uncovering the identity of whistleblowers or anyone who spoke critically of legislators, which would have had dangerous and far-reaching consequences. Neither bill passed.
When the Dismemberment Abortion Ban came for a vote on the House floor (the most significant policy to reach the House floor during the regular session), King was absent for the vote with no explanation. The amendment banned the barbaric abortion procedure in the second trimester that ends the lives of preborn children by removing their limbs while their hearts are still beating. King was present for the other votes on the bill but was either absent or refused to vote when this measure came up for a vote.
Conversely, King was present to vote against a Pro-Life amendment by Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) later that same day, by far his most significant action against the Pro-Life movement. 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 King fawns, this gaping loophole is Texas law. Representative Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) offered an amendment that would have closed this unjust loophole. King sided with the anti-Life Democrats and Straus henchman, Byron Cook (who recently resigned in shame from the Texas House). 18 Republicans, including Ken King, joined the anti-Life Democrats to kill Schaefer’s Pro-Life amendment, thereby leaving unborn babies with disabilities as prey in Texas abortion clinics.
Because Ken King’s tenure in the Texas House has consisted of false promises, lip service, and misplaced loyalties, he has earned a place on Texas Right to Life’s 2017 Disappointment List. The voters of House District 88 and the preborn children of Texas deserve better representation.
Click for King’s full scorecard and the commentary on how he voted on each individual Pro-Life public vote scored by Texas Right to Life.