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Texas Right to Life has been told that we have no business messing with the Texas state budget: The budget is the important work of the Legislature, and Pro-Lifers have no right to bring our ideological fights to the House floor this way.
I completely disagree.
The State’s budget is a moral document. The Texas Legislature demonstrates their moral priorities through funding, and sometimes, more importantly, prohibitions or restrictions of funds. This is why Texas Right to Life has spearheaded huge Pro-Life victories through the general appropriations bills for our state in the last several legislative sessions.
House Bill 1 for the 2015 84th Legislative Session was no different. On Tuesday, important votes were taken and life-saving amendments were added to the state’s budget because a few courageous Pro-Life leaders on the floor of the Texas House withstood tremendous pressure to bring up these critical issues.
1. PASSED: Amendment 53 by Representative Jeff Leach (R-Plano) to disqualify abortion providers and affiliates from teaching sex education or providing the curriculum for human sexuality instruction.
2. PASSED: Amendment 54 by Representative Molly White (R-Belton) to strengthen the curriculum of abstinence education in Texas and to ensure that abortion propaganda is not part of sex education courses in public schools.
3. PASSED: Amendment 267 by Representative Scott Turner (R-Rockwall) to prohibit taxpayer dollars from funding or supporting embryo-destroying scientific research.
4. DEFEATED: 20 anti-Life budget amendments that would have completely zeroed out or reduced the funding for the state’s Alternatives to Abortion Program (A2A), a network of life-affirming maternity homes, adoption agencies, social services, and pregnancy resource centers.
5. DEFEATED: 5 other anti-Life budget amendments that would have nullified existing Pro-Life funding rules or other Pro-Life measures like the Woman’s Right to Know booklet, which is the Texas law requiring informed consent before abortion.
6. PENDING: Additional funding for the Alternatives to Abortion Program:
After several hours of behind-the-scenes negotiations, some in leadership pledged to Pro-Life representatives an increase in the funding for the A2A program even if the debate on the merits of the program was postponed. A temporary agreement was made with the expectation of increased funds for the A2A in the final version of HB 1.
While the Texas Right to Life team must now work to protect these Pro-Life gains in the final version of the budget, Tuesday was a huge victory.
Additionally, Texas Right to Life is proud to work with leaders such as the Pro-Life Whip in the Texas House, Representative Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), Representative Dade Phelan (R-Port Neches), Representative Greg Bonnen, MD (R-Friendswood), Chair of the Republican Caucus Representative Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), Representative Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), who sacrificed his own, unrelated amendment in the A2A negotiations, Representative Four Price (R-Amarillo), and others who joined these members in the all-night discussion of the budget to guarantee substantial Pro-Life gains.