Each year around the January anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Americans United for Life (AUL), a Pro-Life legislative organization, compiles and releases a ranking of all fifty states in order from the most protective of innocent human Life to the least. On the recently released 2015 list, Texas barely makes the top ten.
In this Texas primary season, many politicians are erroneously claiming Texas to be “THE most Pro-Life state” in the union. This faulty one-liner only serves to intentionally confuse voters, abetting the reelection of liberal Republicans who actually caused Texas to fall in the rankings and who are standing in the way of Texas climbing her way back to the top.
In 2011, AUL ranked Texas as the fifth most protective state in the nation. As Texas Right to Life’s lobby team has reported over the last several years, the continuation of liberal “Republican” Joe Straus as Speaker of the Texas House and his like-minded committee chairmen (particularly Byron Cook from Corsicana) has caused the decline in the Texas Legislature’s efforts to protect human Life. While other states in recent years are increasing the number of strong Pro-Life laws, Texas is, at best, standing still. The rankings from AUL give further evidence of the wrong direction Texas is taking on the Life issues.
Joe Straus’s Dismal House
In the 83rd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature in 2013, not a single Pro-Life bill was passed, let alone moved to the House floor for debate, under Straus’s leadership. The landmark Pro-Life Omnibus Bill (House Bill 2) only came to fruition, once again, because of Governor Rick Perry’s official intervention – calling a special session in the summer of 2013, ordering the House to consider the life-saving measure.
Voters should be reminded that each of the four parts of House Bill 2 were filed as separate, stand-alone bills in the regular session. Yet none of the measures reached the House floor, instead falling prey to stall tactics in the House Committee on State Affairs chaired by Byron Cook (“R”-Corsicana).
In 2015, only one major Pro-Life measure passed: House Bill 3994, which reformed the judicial process through which a pregnant teen may undergo an elective abortion without involving her parents. Even in the case of House Bill 3994, significant changes had to be made once the bill moved to the Senate due to the unwillingness of Speaker Straus and his “leadership” team to make the necessary changes on the House side.
House Bill 3074 also passed, which codified additional, modest protections for hospitalized patients to prevent involuntary dehydration and starvation. While House Bill 3074 was a positive step forward, only this small step was possible since House leadership refused to even hold hearings for the three strongest Pro-Life bills substantially reforming the Texas Advance Directives Act.
AUL’s own legislative manual features model legislation requiring hospitals to provide medical treatment until a patient finds and is transferred to a more appropriate care setting when a physician disagrees with treatment decisions made by the patient or surrogate. Thus, we think AUL’s ranking of Texas may fall even lower when the Texas Advance Directives Act, known as the Ten-Day Futility Law, is factored into the matrix with other missing safeguards on human Life.
Although ultimately successful, the passage of House Bill 3994 and House Bill 3074 were not without unnecessary, vicious, and vindictive fights inside the Republican Party. Passing Pro-Life legislation that actually saves lives should not be controversial when the Texas House is supposedly ruled by Republicans.
What is Texas missing?
Texas does not ban human cloning or prohibit embryo-destroying research. In fact, senior Republican members of the Texas House like Chairman Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) and John Zerwas (R-Richmond) actively promote human cloning, to name a couple of the more notorious examples. In the area of embryo-destroying research, not only do Texans’ tax dollars fund such research, but Straus, Zerwas, and John Raney (R-College Station) actually blocked measures to untangle tax dollars from such anti-Life research in 2015.
Texas does not explicitly prohibit or issue penalties for coercing a pregnant mother into an abortion. Despite valiant attempts by Pro-Life House members in 2011, 2013, and 2015 to correct this gross injustice, Speaker Straus and his chairmen have stubbornly refused to allow such bills to reach the House floor for a full vote by House members, where they would overwhelmingly pass with at least 99 Pro-Life votes.
Texas allows tax dollars to fund elective abortion in Obamacare, and private insurance consumers still pay for the elective abortions of others in their same risk pool. Straus, Cook, Representative Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown), and Representative Debbie Riddle (R-Tomball) killed measures that would have reformed insurance coverage both through the ACA and through private plans.
While Texas Right to Life and genuine Pro-Lifers have never stopped working to pass more, and stronger, life-saving legislation, phony Republicans in leadership are doing more harm than good, and their legacy of duplicity is now unveiled to the rest of the country.
Fewer than 30 days remain until the Republican primaries in Texas. Does Texas falling in Pro-Life rankings to tenth change your vote? How many babies have to be sold piece by piece in Texas abortion mills to change your vote to a real conservative Pro-Lifer?
Don’t believe the hype – all is not well in Texas.
Much like in Washington, D.C., major changes are needed in the leadership of the Texas House on March 1st.
Vote Pro-Life in the upcoming primary election.
Early Voting: Feb. 16th – Feb. 26th
Election Day: March 1st