Politics and legislation in Texas not only impact our Lone Star State, but frequently influence the rest of the country. This rings true particularly for Pro-Life legislation, where the individual states work in conjunction as a coordinated, prodigious, nationwide Pro-Life movement. The public policy reforms for which Texas Right to Life lobbies and advocates directly affect the lives of preborn Texans and vulnerable patients in Texas hospitals. The laws enacted here also direct the nationwide Pro-Life movement. Importantly, Texas is the most populous state that recognizes the inviolability of human Life.
New instruction from the Trump administration demonstrates the wide-ranging impact of Texas Pro-Life laws. On April 20, Scott Lloyd, the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, instructed immigration shelters to give life-affirming information to pregnant women within those immigration shelters through a booklet entitled A Woman’s Right to Know (WRTK) published by the Texas Health and Human Service Commission to empower women in their pregnancies.
Pro-Life legislation in 2003 created the WRTK booklet, which contains critical information concerning fetal development, the consequences of abortion, and alternatives to abortion, etc. Texas law requires abortion centers to distribute the booklet to women twenty-four hours before undergoing an elective abortion. This resource plays an integral role in informing a woman before she obtains a life-altering and life-taking procedure. Now, per ORR instruction, immigration officials are distributing the booklet to pregnant women across the country.
Other states have their own versions of WRTK but the Trump administration selected Texas’ version for dissemination in immigration shelters across the U.S. Therefore, shelters are distributing this important information to pregnant women for the first time. Texas Right to Life’s leadership continued in the development of and debate over the exact wording of the WRTK when abortion advocates and bureaucrats attempted to undermine the Pro-Life legislation. Thankfully Pro-Life Texans and Texas Right to Life succeeded in clarifying and strengthening the language of a WRTK by means of public comments and stakeholder meetings. That language that is now in the hands of pregnant women across the county.
In addition to Texas’ Pro-Life laws and products being exported to other states, Texas influences the national Pro-Life movement through litigation. Texas Right to Life anticipates potential court challenges to all significant Pro-Life legislation and incorporates current judicial precedent and strategy into drafting amendments and stand-alone legislation. The results of these court challenges would have a more extensive impact than just affecting innocent human Life in Texas. Texas Right to Life strives to protect preborn children from the injustice of elective abortion today, while furthering the long term goal of overturning Roe v. Wade by weakening the anti-Life judicial philosophy on which Roe was established.
Such was the case of the 2013 Preborn Pain Act, which currently protects pain-capable preborn children of 20-weeks post-fertilization or older. Although the law was never challenged, many Pro-Life judicial experts believe Preborn Pain legislation is the next step for tearing down key judicial pillars upholding Roe. Another strategic and prudent incremental bill championed by Texas Right to Life was the Dismemberment Abortion Ban, which prohibits the barbaric practice of tearing the limbs off a preborn child one by one while her heart still beats. The Texas Legislature enacted the Dismemberment Abortion Ban in the spring of 2017; the advocates of death challenged the Pro-Life priority immediately. Although the US District Court for the Western District of Texas enjoined the policy, the more favorable 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the lawsuit this summer. A positive ruling will signal to other states to follow Texas’ lead—and may send the historic lawsuit to the Supreme Court.
In the Texas Capitol (and in bureaucratic offices), Texas Right to Life fights relentlessly for every prudent Pro-Life victory—even those as small as inserting an additional word into a booklet. The Trump administration mandate proves this approach to Pro-Life legislation and politics in Texas essential. For the Pro-Life movement, what happens in Texas affects the entire county—and countless innocent human lives.