With Republican membership in the Texas House standing at 98 out of 150, one would not expect harsh repercussions simply as a result of a Pro-Life floor amendment. However, name calling and political bullying from Republican colleagues is exactly what happened to Representative Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) when he sought to protect preborn children from late abortions on the House floor.
Legislative sessions in Texas run January through May of every odd year. In late April, Pro-Life House members were understandably upset that, despite numerous Pro-Life bills having been filed, zero had managed to move to the floor for a vote. Leadership in the Texas House was deliberately stalling the movement of Pro-Life measures.
One of these stalled Pro-Life bills was an effort by Representative Schaefer to close loopholes that allow for the late abortions of preborn children who may have a perceived disability in utero. Such loopholes were created at the demand of Byron Cook, Chairman of House Committee on State Affairs, before he would pass the historic Sonogram Law (2011) and Preborn Pain Bill (2013) out of his committee.
In response, Representative Schaefer filed substantively the same measure to protect babies with perceived disabilities from late abortions as an amendment to House Bill 2510. The main purpose of House Bill 2510 was to restructure the Department of State Health Services (DSHS). However, as DSHS is the agency that oversees implementation of most Pro-Life laws in Texas, the bill was germane to Schaefer’s Pro-Life amendment.
Schaefer offered a second Pro-Life amendment to HB 2510, strengthening reporting requirements for abortion facilities and abortion doctors. Schaefer’s Pro-Life measures brought the governing caucus of liberal Republicans and Democrats to a standstill. The Democrats threatened to pull a procedural move to send this “must-pass” bill back to the beginning of the legislative process if Schaefer’s amendments were tacked onto the bill. House leadership, among them Representatives Byron Cook and Jim Keffer, tried in vain to bully Representative Schaefer into withdrawing his Life-saving amendments. However, Schaefer and a handful of his Pro-Life colleagues refused to back down. The Democrat’s procedural move sent HB 2510 back to the committee.
As a result of calling attention to Byron Cook’s refusal to move Pro-Life bills through the House Committee on State Affairs (where Representative Schaefer’s Pro-Life bills were being held hostage), and calling attention to the fact that zero Pro-Life measures had managed to reach the House floor at the session’s late date, Representative Schaefer paid a heavy price for defending the preborn – he was called derogatory names by other Republican House members, politically punished, and targeted for the remainder of the session, and his completely unrelated bills were killed by Republicans.
That, Texans, is how your State House treats legislators who dare to stand for the voiceless.
Use YOUR voice by showing up at the ballot box in March.