On Wednesday, March 15, the Texas Senate gave preliminary approval to Senate Bill 415, the Dismemberment Abortion Ban. This measure is the priority legislation for the Pro-Life movement in Texas during the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature. Appropriately, Pro-Life Senators were prepared to combat the outnumbered, yet vocal pro-abortion minority in the Texas Senate. Surprisingly though, the usually rancorous opponents of Pro-Life legislation, pro-abortion Democrats, hardly put up a fight on the Senate floor.
The math has only changed slightly since the zenith of their protest in 2013 with Wendy Davis’ infamous attempted filibuster of the Pro-Life Omnibus Bill, HB 2. Although the anti-Life plan failed to stop the Pro-Life legislation in 2013, political commentators predicted that this level of citizen activism, passionate protest, and political opposition would be the new norm for legislative debates. However, anti-Life elected officials seem to have lost their zeal this session.
In what could be record time, Senate Bill 415 was debated and approved on the Senate floor for less than 50 minutes. Only two Senators stood up to argue against the bill and only one hostile amendment was filed. Usually Democrats introduce a long list of amendments to weaken, gut, or undermine any Pro-Life legislation on the Senate floor. Thus, the resistance was surprisingly tepid compared to their history of opposition to both the 2013 Pro-Life Omnibus Bill and to the Judicial Bypass Reform, House Bill 3994, in 2015. Such a change of tenor should lead any astute political observer to ask why.
The simple answer is that pro-abortion politicians do not want to discuss abortion. Of course, they want to discuss abortion clinics, credentials and training of abortionists, and the abstract right to an abortion. However, our opponents do not want to talk about the violent procedure tearing a living preborn baby to pieces. This is why, when pressed, Democrats performed rhetorical acrobatics to avoid facing the truth that an elective abortion is a violent, horrific, and torturous activity.
By design, Senate Bill 415 made the truth rather difficult to avoid. The sole purpose of the legislation is to prohibit the barbaric practice of taking a preborn child’s life by removing his or her limbs in the womb. This is the last thing anti-Life elected officials want to discuss or publicly defend.
Even the name of the bill trembled some elected officials. Instead of uttering the word “dismemberment,” a term used by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Senate Democrats systematically repeated the inaccurate phrase “D&E abortions,” when attempting to discuss what the bill aims to prohibit. This diversion from the truth was indicative of the short public discussion of the bill. The lines of attack launched by Democrats were centered on medical emergencies, an already existing 24-hour waiting period, what medical groups supported the legislation, and whether possible litigation following the passage of the bill would cost taxpayer dollars. Not a single opponent defended dismembering a live child in the womb.
Thankfully, Pro-Life Champion and author of the bill, Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), continuously brought his opponents back to the real issue at stake by emphasizing the nature and inhumanity of abortion. In response to Senator Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), Senator Perry cited how liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledged dismemberment abortions are as “gruesome and inhumane” as partial birth abortions (which the Supreme Court allowed the U.S. Congress to outlaw in 2007). When Senator Perry pointed out even Justice Ginsburg, the titan and hero of the pro-abortion movement, is on record of acknowledging the ugliness of dismemberment abortions, Senator Garcia abandoned her line of questioning.
Pro-Life senator and emergency room physician, Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) on the other hand, highlighted the disgusting nature of dismemberment abortions, calling the procedure “abortion by torture.” Campbell continued, “A physician, I believe, worth their medical degree would never participate in such a gross, unnecessary, rudimentary practice.”
Another possible reason the Democrats who opposed SB 415 could not be too vocal in their protest on the Senate floor is because two senior leading Democrat senators crossed party lines and supported the Pro-Life measure: Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville) and Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo). In fact, Senator Lucio rose to focus the discussion back on the child, describing his experience watching a sonogram video of a preborn child’s response during an abortion. He rightly noted,
I hope we take a moment and think about what the baby is going through. I just shudder to think that this could have happened to any one of us if our mother had chosen to have an abortion…I would encourage the members to take the time to learn a little more about what happens during the procedures that take place in an abortion and I think there would be some second thoughts, quite frankly, when they see exactly how little babies yet to be born are actually being aborted.
While some self-identified Pro-Life politicians worry about “messy” floor fights and how anti-Life opponents will seek to embarrass them on the House or Senate floor when such bills are debated, they need to learn this important lesson: Pro-abortion elected officials are afraid of the truth. The Pro-Life movement can and must prudently educate the public, taking bold stances when pushing forward legislation focusing on the humanity of the child and the inhumanity of abortion. Even the most ardently pro-abortion Democrats cannot deny the gruesome act of abortion. As Senator Perry explained, the “Supreme Court has affirmed that the state has an interest in protecting the preborn.” Texas Right to Life is strongly convinced we should pursue and prioritize legislation built on this state interest.
The next step in the Dismemberment Abortion Ban is for either Senate Bill 415 or the House companion bill, House Bill 844, to be scheduled for a public hearing in the House Committee on State Affairs, chaired by Byron Cook (R-Corsicana). Ask your state representative to co-author HB 844 and SB 415.