Pro-Life Accomplishments in the 2013
83rd Regular and Special Legislative Sessions
1. Passed House Bill 2: The Pro-Life Omnibus Bill
House Sponsor: Representative Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker)
Senate Sponsor: Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Katy)
• During the second special session that began on July 1, House Bill 2 successfully passed in the House on July 9 (97-49) and in the Senate on July 13 (19-11).
• The historic House Bill 2 includes the following provisions:
a. Establish the state’s interest in protecting the lives of preborn children who feel pain and subsequently prohibit abortions at the developmental point at which medical science confirms that preborn children feel pain (twenty weeks of development);
b. Require that an abortionist secure admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic;
c. Mandate that abortion clinics meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers; and
d. Strengthen protocol for the administration of the commonly abused RU-486, the drug used in chemical abortions.
• House Bill 2 not only draws attention to the humanity of the unborn child and reminds us that there are two victims in every abortion but also addresses Gosnell-like abortion mills such as the clinic in Houston that is now under investigation for similar atrocities.
• While we pray that women do not choose abortion, the women who do make that life-changing, tragic choice should not be further victimized by noxious, unsanitary conditions that jeopardize their safety and recovery.
2. Increased Funding for the State’s Alternatives to Abortion Program
• The state allocates funds for the Alternatives to Abortion Program.
• The program is based on a fee-for-service model that reimburses social service providers, adoption agencies, maternity homes, and pregnancy centers for free services for a woman who is (a) pregnant, (b) thinks she may be pregnant, or (c) is the parent of a child up to one year old.
• The allocated funding in the state budget increased from $8,300,000 to $10,300,000 for the 2014-2015 biennium.
• The credit for the increase in this funding largely goes to Representative Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) and Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands), who oversee the state’s budget bills.
3. New Pro-Life Restrictive Budget Riders
• Restrictive language was added that ensures abortion providers and affiliates of abortion providers would not benefit from the $100,000,000 increase to family planning and women’s health funding.
• The heavy lifting was done by Pro-Life Whip Representative Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), Representative Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), and Senator Tommy Williams, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, to ensure that all family planning funds were available only to programs and agencies that are not affiliated in any way with abortion or abortion providers or those entities that contract with abortion providers.
4. Defeat of Senate Bill 303
• During the regular session, Senate Bill 303 carried by Senator Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) and Representative Susan King (R-Abilene) passed the State Senate and died in the House Public Health Committee.
• SB 303 would have worsened the already unjust and draconian Texas Advance Directives Act. The current law authorizes doctors and hospital-appointed committees to deny life-sustaining treatment, including nutrition and hydration, to patients against their wishes.
• Admittedly, the law needs drastic reform, but SB 303 would have expanded involuntary euthanasia through a number of provisions.
• First, SB 303 clearly authorized physicians to write do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders on patients without their consent, forcing patients who objected to appeal to the hospital’s own committee, which would have made the final decision. The DNR section of SB 303 also provided complete legal immunity for physicians who issued such DNR orders.
• Secondly, SB 303 would have done nothing to correct the main objection to the current law, which imposes a burdensome countdown mechanism (only ten days) on patients and their surrogates to move the patient to another facility or physician who will comply with the patient's wishes for continued treatment.
• Thirdly, SB 303 codified an anti-life quality of life ethic by allowing physicians and hospitals to withdraw life-sustaining treatment (ventalator, dyalsis, even nutrition and hydration) based on subjective value judgments of whether the patient’s life is worth living with that treatment.
• The current law also forces patients and their families to defend their right to make their own medical decisions and their right to life before a committee of strangers appointed by the very hospital that seeks to deny them treatment.
• Texas Right to Life and many other patient advocacy organizations educated the public and alerted families whose ailing loved ones have fallen victim to the current law to come to Austin and testify.
• Those who registered in opposition to SB 303 outnumbered supporters more than 4 to 1 (112 against and 23 in favor). The House Public Health Committee hearing lasted until 2:30am with Elizabeth Graham the last to testify.
• The hearing was an overwhelming outcry against SB 303, as well as for a true, substantial Pro-Life reform of the Texas Advance Directives Act, and for the defense of those the most vulnerable Texans who are hospitalized.
5. Promotion of Pro-Life Stem Cell Research
• Representative Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) amended Senate Bill 215 to establish a Texas Adult Stem Cell Research Coordinating Board to oversee an Adult Stem Cell Research Consortium that would make grants, investments, and loans with private funds.
• The establishment of this board promises the expansion and promotion of life-affirming stem cell research as an alternative to the fruitless and fatal embryonic stem cell research.