Austin, Texas – June 6, 2017: Today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for a special session for the 85th Texas Legislature, which will start July 18. The governor announced that he will add 19 items to the special session call once the Legislature passes a necessary Sunset bill to renew state agencies, including the Texas Medical Board. Among the additional 19 items are four Pro-Life policies, two of which are Texas Right to Life’s Pro-Life priorities for the 85th Session.
During the 85th regular legislative session, under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and the Texas House Freedom Caucus, the Texas Legislature successfully passed important Pro-Life reforms, including the Dismemberment Abortion Ban Amendment. Unfortunately, personal politics in the House of Representatives killed other major Pro-Life bills. Texas Right to Life applauds Governor Abbott for reviving these issues.
Most importantly, the special session will include Pro-Life Health Insurance Reform and Do-Not-Resuscitate Order Reform, two bills prioritized by Texas Right to Life. Senator Taylor successfully spearheaded passage of Pro-Life Health Insurance Reform with Senate Bill 20 from the Senate, but House leadership killed the bill by refusing to schedule a floor vote. After Senator Taylor crafted a Pro-Life Insurance Reform amendment for House Bill 3124, House leadership killed the measure again.
Similarly, House leadership refused to schedule the Do-Not-Resuscitate Order Reform for a floor vote until too late in the session. The bill by Dr. Greg Bonnen, a Republican representative from Galveston County, explicitly requires patient or surrogate consent in most circumstances before a Do-Not-Resuscitate order is placed on a patient. Texas Right to Life has led the campaign to end the unethical practice of secret and unwanted DNR orders after witnessing this patient abuse firsthand while serving as patient advocates. Unfortunately, the political games and last-minute scheduling killed the bill without the measure ever reaching the House floor.
The third Pro-Life item that Governor Abbott added to his supplemental special session call is a non-priority abortion-related bill to reform reporting of abortion and abortion complications, which the House also killed in the regular session. Abbott specifically mentioned his expectation that the bill includes an amendment added by Senator Bryan Hughes to collect data on minors seeking elective abortions as well as language authorizing the State Health Department to keep statistics on the abortionists who cause complications.
Lastly, the governor added a measure to stop state and local municipalities from sending taxpayer dollars to abortion providers and their affiliates. The governor plans to sign the two-year state budget passed during the regular session that contains a strong Pro-Life prohibition on abortion providers and affiliates. This stand-alone bill will address cities and counties that funnel money to the profit-driven abortion industry.
The Texas Right to Life Legislative team will continue Pro-Life leadership and a full-time presence during the 30-day special session of the 85th Legislature. Important Pro-Life measures were thwarted during the regular session by political games in the Texas House. While these important bills still have a long way to go before they get to the governor’s desk, Pro-Life activists can celebrate the opportunity to add significant gains to the victories won in the regular session of the 85th Legislature.