Austin, TX—July 20, 2017: The agenda for the First Called Special Session of the 85th Texas Legislature includes several important Pro-Life measures. Governor Greg Abbott included four key Pro-Life provisions among the 20 items to be addressed after the Legislature passes the necessary sunset bills. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who oversaw the Pro-Life victories of the regular session, has indicated he will ensure the governor’s Pro-Life priorities will be moved quickly out of the state Senate this summer. Unfortunately, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), has already communicated that his House is not interested in the governor’s agenda, signaling that the obstructionism in the House may continue at the expense of important Pro-Life bills.
Texas Right to Life applauds Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick for moving the sunset bill in the state Senate quickly so that lawmakers can tackle the remaining 19 agenda items, even gaveling in past midnight early Thursday morning to pass the must-pass sunset bills.
The Pro-Life measures in Governor Abbott’s special session priorities include Pro-Life Health Insurance Reform and restrictions on Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders for hospitalized patients, both of which have been killed by Straus and Committee Chair Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) in past sessions. Pro-Life Insurance Reform would remove coverage of elective abortion from private insurance and state exchanges, as well as from plans subsidized by the Affordable Care Act. Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) passed Pro-Life Insurance Reform in the 2015 and 2017 sessions only to see his bills fall victim to political games in the House. The Pro-Life Insurance Reform bill is House Bill 214 by Representative John Smithee (R-Amarillo) and Senate Bill 8 by Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) in the special session.
Shockingly, in Texas doctors can write a Do-Not-Resuscitate Order on a patient without consent from the patient or the patient’s surrogate. Representative Greg Bonnen (R-League City), a neurosurgeon, crafted legislation to require patient consent or consent from the patient’s legal medical surrogate. Although Dr. Bonnen successfully built astonishing consensus on the bill, Byron Cook slowed the DNR Consent bill during the regular session, guaranteeing the measure’s demise. The DNR Reform bill is House Bill 12 by Dr. Bonnen and Senate Bill 11 by Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) for the special session.
The call for the special session also includes a measure to improve reporting requirements for the incidences of complications from abortions and provisions to improve reporting requirements to ensure that pregnant minors are afforded the appropriate parental or judicial protections. Again, Byron Cook is already thumbing his nose at Governor Abbott by opposing this data collection that could prove vital to the health and safety of pregnant women. Governor Abbott astutely recognizes that in order to address a problem, accurate information is essential, and he must not let the political miscreants in the Texas House jeopardize the health and safety of pregnant women in Texas.
The final Pro-Life measure on the call for the special session will codify strong defunding language adopted in the state budget and prohibit state and local governments from giving local tax dollars to the abortion industry. This measure will be another solid step toward the Pro-Life goal of cutting off all taxpayer dollars from benefiting abortion providers and their affiliates.