Texas was once again on the front lines of several Pro-Life battles in 2016. For many years, the nation has looked to Texas to see the frontiers of the Pro-Life movement; and the abortion lobby has had Texas in their sights. This year was no different.
In January, Texas Right to Life traveled to Austin to host the fourth annual Boots on the Ground conference for Pro-Life college students. The two-day event brings together Fellows from the Texas Right to Life Dr. Joseph Graham Fellowship for College Pro-Life Leaders and students from across the state. Each year, the conference boasts an all-star line-up of speakers on various Pro-Life topics. 2016 emphasized political involvement during the turbulent election year.
Elections were indeed the focus of February. Texas Right to Life Political Action Committee (PAC) assisted many state-wide and local campaigns for strong, Pro-Life candidates. Texas Right to Life PAC endorsed candidates who met rigorous standards for their commitment to defending Life. Leading up to the March 1 Primary, the PAC organized volunteers for block walks, sponsored billboards, radio spots, robo-calls, and innovative political advertising on social media.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments for the abortion lobby’s case against provisions of House Bill 2, Texas’ Pro-Life Omnibus Bill of 2013. The Texas Right to Life team was in Washington, D.C., to stand with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in defending the landmark legislation the abortion lobby sought to destroy. While in the nation’s capital, Texas Right to Life staff appeared on several media outlets to discuss the case. Although the Court struck down two provisions of HB 2 in June, the most important aspect, the Preborn Pain provision, is still in effect and the decision provided a clear direction for the future of the Pro-Life movement.
April was the month to welcome the newest class of the Dr. Joseph Graham Fellowship for College Pro-Life Leaders. Texas Right to Life sponsors scholarships for committed Pro-Life students, the future Pro-Life leaders of our state. The Fellows are responsible for founding and maintaining Pro-Life groups on their campuses and committing numerous hours to service each semester. Fellows also receive education in Pro-Life principles and organizational skills at the Texas Right to Life Fellows’ training each year. The new class demonstrated that they were well chosen with the many successes of the 2016 fall semester.
In May, Texas Right to Life participated in the Republican Party of Texas Convention. The message for the convention was the urgent need to pass the Dismemberment Abortion Ban in the 2017 legislative session. Attendees posed for pictures with the hashtag #DismemberRoe. 90% of the voting delegates voted to add the Dismemberment Abortion Ban plank in the Party’s 2016 Platform. Convention attendees also showed their support by signing a petition for the Texas Legislature to pursue codification of a law protecting the preborn in Texas’ next legislative session.
2016 also saw the Texas Right to Life’s launch of the Young Adult Life Link (Y’ALL) in June. The group brings together Pro-Life young professionals. Young adults are proving to be the Pro-Life generation, and people in their 20s and 30s are shaping the Culture of Life. Having events that bring these Pro-Life young people together for education, community service, and social events has been a great success.
David Daleiden, the citizen journalist behind the Center for Medical Progress, returned to Houston in July for a victory against the anti-Life stronghold. Disgraced former Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson embarrassed Texas by bungling the case against Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast so badly that Daleiden and his partner in the Center for Medical Progress, Sandra Merritt, were charged with a crime. Thankfully, the whistleblowers were exonerated. To add to the victory, Anderson was ousted in the November election.
August marked an exciting anniversary for the oldest, largest, and only state-wide Pro-Life organization in Texas: Texas Right to Life turned 43.
As part of the longstanding tradition of bringing together committed Pro-Life Texans and standing in defense of Life, Texas Right to Life hosted the 19th Annual Celebration of Life in Houston. David Daleiden delivered the keynote address. Daleiden and Sandra Merritt received awards for their courageous work to uncover the shocking and illegal trafficking of baby body parts by the abortion industry in our own state.
September was also an opportunity to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which protects babies from being killed in abortions using taxpayer dollars. As anti-Life activists attempt to overthrow the Hyde Amendment, Pro-Lifers celebrated the 2.1 million lives saved by the life-saving appropriations rider. Of those 2.1 million lives, 258, 265 were tiny Texans saved by the Hyde Amendment.
One of Texas Right to Life’s ongoing legislative priorities is protecting vulnerable hospital patients from anti-Life imposed death laws. In October, Texas Right to Life hosted Bobby Schindler of the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network to speak at several events across Texas. Schindler is Terri Schiavo’s brother, and he spoke about the many legislative threats to the Right to Life and the importance of medical ethics.
In November, Texas Right to Life was honored to host the Inaugural North Texas Celebration of Life. Four hundred supporters from across greater North Texas gathered to partner with Texas Right to Life.
November also saw the defeat of the most anti-Life presidential candidate in United States history. Not only was Hillary Clinton defeated, but her extreme views on abortion directly contributed to her defeat. Texas Right to Life is optimistic that Pro-Life Donald Trump will fulfill his campaign promises to protect Life in the nation’s highest office.
In the final month of 2016, an investigative panel in the U.S. House recommended criminal charges against Planned Parenthood for their illegal sale of baby body parts. Such crimes among the abortion giant led Texas officials to finalize their decision to terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood. The largest abortion business in America, which is still under multiple state and federal investigations and facing prosecution, does not deserve one red cent of Texas taxpayer dollars. Texas Right to Life applauds the diligent work of Texas officials to finalize Planned Parenthood’s removal of all Medicaid funding and will continue the fight in Austin to stop ALL taxpayer funding of the organization.
Follow Texas Right to Life in 2017 as we head to Austin for the 85th Legislative Session and cover the exciting Pro-Life developments of the new year!