When “Promoting a Culture of Life” was prominently featured in the “Viewpoint” section of Stephenville Empire-Tribune last week, I naturally assumed that a Pro-Life advocate was educating readers and the community about the sanctity and value of innocent human Life.
However, I was wrong, sorely wrong—the article was attributed to J.D. Sheffield, an osteopath who serves in theTexas House of Representatives.
During his two terms in the State House, Sheffield has vocally clarified his position: He will protect the sanctity and dignity of some human Lives, not all. Sheffield achieved an abysmal 49% on Texas Right to Life’s Legislative Scorecard for the 2015 84th Session of theTexas Legislature.
By maintaining a full-time presence of five lobbyists in the Capitol, Texas Right to Life’s legislative team is in a unique position to see who in the Texas Legislature actively promotes the Pro-Life cause and who thwarts Pro-Life measures. Sheffield falls in the latter minority while in Austin, but prattles all about protecting Life during election season.
In his viewpoint piece, Sheffield argues that as a physician, he agrees human Life should be protected and valued in our society. Yet his actions in the most recent legislative session betray this statement:
· On House Bill 2510, Sheffield gave a five-minute speech, on record, on the floor of the Texas House, in support of late abortions on babies who may have a perceived disability in the womb.
· Sheffield voted against an amendment to House Bill 2510 that would have protected unborn babies with disabilities from abortion, arguing these children were a “a situation that needed to be dealt with.”
· Sheffield voted against an amendment to House Bill 2510, opposing statistical abortion reporting by abortion facilities.
Sheffield mentions the successful 5-month ban on abortion that was a major part of the historic House Bill 2 that passed the Legislature in the summer of 2013. During the House Bill 2 debates, Sheffield took the following actions:
· Voted to allow an exception to the 20-week ban in cases of rape,
· Opposed requiring all abortion doctors to obtain privileges at nearby hospitals, and
· Voted against requiring abortion facilities to comply with health standards and structural requirements essential for patient safety.
Sheffield writes about laws regarding a pregnant teen’s ability to obtain permission from a judge, rather than her parents, in order to undergo an abortion. Sheffield raves that Texas “closed the loophole” that allows this process, demonstrating his misunderstanding of Pro-Life laws.
Sheffield may have been thinking of House Bill 3994, which passed in the 84th and reforms the procedural problems within the judicial bypass process. The loophole is not closed, but through House Bill 3994, the process is more protective. A pregnant teenager in Texas can still undergo an abortion without the consent of her parent(s) after a judge grants the teen permission. The Supreme Court of the United States mandates such a judicial process be in place when states require parental involvement; even the strong version of HB 3994 does not end this judicial process in Texas.
Toward the end of his self-promotion piece, Sheffield astonishingly mentions a bill that helped parents who are expecting a baby diagnosed in utero with Down Syndrome—these children are the same type whom Sheffield stated, “needed to be dealt with,” for Down Syndrome is cast as a disability.
J.D. Sheffield routinely chooses not to respect the Life of every human being when considering public policy measures in the Texas House. Sadly, the constituents of House District 59 that encompasses Erath, Comanche, McCulloch, Mills, Hamilton, San Saba, and Somervell may be duped by his campaign fodder.
Sheffield has made a mockery of thePro-Life cause and turned his back on the lives of the disabled. He speaks as a physician, but most physicians would never turn their backs on the disabled, the ailing, and the preborn. House District 59, as well as tiny Texans across the state, undoubtedly deserves better representation, as do unborn children of all abilities.