Despite some successes in this 84th Session of the Texas Legislature, most progress was impeded by rogue legislators who pay lip service to Pro-Life beliefs. With only one major, free-standing Pro-Life bill passing, Pro-Life amendments to the state’s budget bill are among the most notable achievements of the 84th Session.
Three important budget amendments were added in the Texas House of Representatives and were left in the final version of the budget bill. Included was Amendment 53 by Representative Jeff Leach (R-Plano), Amendment 54 by Representative Molly White (R-Belton), and a change to the Breast & Cervical Cancer Screening Program that prohibits abortion providers and their affiliates from eligibility and participation in the program.
Amendment 53 by Representative Leach, a Texas Right to Life endorsee, protects school children from propaganda and sexual exploration initiatives (1) by prohibiting abortion providers and affiliates from teaching sex education programs in public schools and (2) by prohibiting abortion providers and affiliates from writing or contributing to the curricula for such programs. These programs are funded by tax dollars, and sex education contracts are another revenue stream for Planned Parenthood and their ilk while simultaneously eroding the minds of our children.
Amendment 54 by Representative Molly White, also endorsed by Texas Right to Life, clarifies that the Texas Abstinence Program must follow all federal curriculum guidelines for sex ed. These guidelines mandate that curricula and teaching be abstinence-based, underscoring the efficacy of abstinence in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, rather than encouraging premature sexual exploration.
Texas Right to Life led efforts to remove abortion providers from the Breast & Cervical Cancer Screening Program (BCCS). Due to the increased risk of developing breast cancer after abortion and the correlation between abortion and cervical cancer, disqualifying abortion providers from BCCS marked a logical and necessary step in protecting women’s health. After the landmark budget achievements in 2011 through which Texas Right to Life orchestrated the removal of abortion providers from so-called family planning programs, the next step to defunding the abortion industry was to ensure that contractors and funds for other women’s health programs were not awarded to abortion providers and affiliates. Texas Right to Life uncovered that Planned Parenthood was participating in BCCS, and thus, worked with legislators to change eligibility requirements. Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) oversaw the budget language on the BCCS program and we are grateful for her diligence.
Two other amendments for which the Pro-Life majority in the House of Representatives voted were stricken from the final version of HB 1, the budget bill. These included increased funding for the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program and a prohibition on tax dollars from funding embryo-destroying scientific research.
Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) carried an amendment to increase the A2A funds to $25 million; Representative Phelan withdrew his amendment on the promise from House leadership for the increase in the final version of HB 1. The A2A program provides women in unexpected pregnancies with mentoring, support, and resources to continue their pregnancies. However, House leadership did not deliver on the $25 million, but rather $18.3 million was allocated to this life-saving program. Consequently, a shortage of funding for A2A could have a direct impact on the number of mothers who choose abortion by limiting outreach and assistance of the service providers. Although the final amount, $18.3 million, is an increase, funding Pro-Life initiatives without bargains or negotiations should always be a priority for a Pro-Life legislature.
Amendment 267 by Representative Scott Turner (R-Plano) would have protected YOUR tax dollars from funding the destruction of human embryos through research. Despite 90 favorable votes in the Texas House, the Turner amendment was also stricken from the final version of HB 1. Taxpayers will continue to fund the destruction of preborn children through publicly-funded universities and hospitals.
These amendments and safeguards in the budget are crucial to protect the preborn and the Pro-Life taxpayer, but the cavalier of some in House leadership to squelch Pro-Life discussions about the state’s budget on the floor of the Texas House stifles the voice of Pro-Life Texans.