FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Texas House adopts Dismemberment Abortion Ban as floor amendment
Austin, Texas—May 19, 2017: Today, the Texas House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 8, which prohibits partial-birth abortions and regulates the disposition of the bodies of abortion victims. While well-intentioned, Senate Bill 8 as originally filed did nothing to protect the tens of thousands of preborn babies killed by abortion in our state every year. During debate on the floor of the Texas House, Pro-Life representatives proposed substantial amendments to SB 8 to add life-saving measures. Most notably, the House adopted the Dismemberment Abortion Ban Amendment, Texas Right to Life’s priority legislation for the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature. The Dismemberment Abortion Ban bill was purposefully killed in the House Committee on State Affairs, chaired by Byron Cook of Corsicana, who prioritized politics over protecting the preborn.
The Dismemberment Abortion Ban, originally filed as HB 844 by Representative Stephanie Klick and SB 415 by Senator Charles Perry, would prohibit the gruesome and inhumane practice of dismemberment abortion in Texas. In a dismemberment abortion, the child is killed in utero by being torn limb from limb while his or her heart is still beating. Under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and State Senator Charles Perry, the State Senate passed the Dismemberment Abortion Ban in March with bipartisan support. Unprecedented regime games in the House inexcusably stalled the Senate version of this bill for months, despite more than 70 state representatives co-authoring the bill, Attorney General Ken Paxton supportinging the legislation, and the Dismemberment Abortion Ban receiving overwhelming grassroots support.
In addition to the Dismemberment Abortion Ban Amendment, the Texas House also adopted an amendment to reform the outdated abortion reporting system and strengthen critical definitions in Texas law. Pro-Life Texans were able to witness the truth firsthand about who in the House of Representatives is truly uncompromising in their Pro-Life convictions. Representative Matt Schaefer offered an amendment to close loopholes in Texas laws that fail to protect preborn children with disabilities from abortion at any stage of pregnancy. Following the passage of the Pro-Life Omnibus Bill (House Bill 2) in 2013, preborn babies became protected from abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation – the stage of development at which babies undeniably feel pain. However, establishment moderate Republicans in the Texas House forced an amendment sanctioning the abortions of babies who may have a disability at any stage of development. Texas Right to Life has worked with legislators for years to correct to this deadly discrimination in Texas law and grant full rights to all preborn babies. Unfortunately, the Schaefer amendment failed on a 71-65 vote with 21 Republicans voting AGAINST this critical provision and three Republicans simply did not register a vote.
Senate Bill 8, including the life-saving Pro-Life amendments added by the House, will return to the State Senate next for a procedural vote before heading to the Governor’s desk. Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign the bill into law soon.
Texas Right to Life thanks the Freedom Caucus and other Pro-Life Champions for helping to organize the strengthening amendment strategy and for whipping other Pro-Life members of the Texas House to support these life-saving reforms to SB 8. The amendments to SB 8 will protect pregnant women and save countless innocent human lives in Texas.