When the Texas Legislature enacted the Preborn Pain Act amidst national spotlight in July 2013, Pro-Life activists rightly celebrated the remarkable and life-saving achievement. Wendy Davis’s fruitless filibuster garnered national headlines from fawning media and an exalting tweet from President Obama. Pro-Life leaders in the Texas Capitol persisted through the media firestorm and ensuing backlash to protect preborn children from barbaric post-20 week abortions based on the premise that these preborn children feel pain.
Lost in the coverage at the time, however, was a glaring exception that unjustly victimizes preborn children suspected of disabilities. While healthy children were saved from gruesome late abortions, preborn children who may have a handicap, disability, or injury were targeted. Shamefully, the exception remains to this day.
During every legislative session since, Texas Right to Life has supported the elimination of this discriminatory, deadly exception. Thankfully, this effort has gained support from grassroots activists, conservative organizations, and elected officials. The movement backing the bill culminated when the Republican Party of Texas endorsed closing the anti-Life loophole and passing the Preborn NonDiscrimination Act (PreNDA) in their official 2018 Party Platform. Close to 9,000 Republican delegates supported the addition of PreNDA to the party’s list of legislative priorities for the Texas Legislature in 2019.
The Pro-Life movement is built on the principle that all human beings have inherent value from fertilization until natural death, which means everyone possesses immeasurable dignity and deserves protection under the law. The current exception for preborn Texans with disabilities unquestionably violates this principle. Just as we would not directly kill human beings outside the womb because of a disability or terminal diagnosis, neither should we permit the direct killing of human beings inside the womb in similar situations. While U.S. Supreme Court precedent currently restricts our ability to fully act on these principles by ending abortion altogether, we still strive to defend all preborn children to the fullest extent possible in the state Legislature, the courts, and the culture.
Texas Right to Life recognizes the urgency in protecting preborn children from this sort of discrimination, which is why we are championing PreNDA as the top Pro-Life priority for the 86th Session of the Texas Legislature. PreNDA closes all the indefensible anti-Life exceptions throughout Texas Pro-Life law, providing equal protection for preborn children with disabilities. PreNDA also prohibits all discriminatory abortions that are motivated by the preborn child’s race, biological sex, or suspected disability. Discrimination on the basis of disability is unacceptable both inside and outside of the womb and should not be tolerated by Texans or Texas law. Rather than abandoning a family facing the difficult diagnosis of their child’s potential disability, PreNDA affirms their child’s value and dignity. The bill requires physicians to provide these families with information on life-affirming medical and social services, such as perinatal palliative care, that support the child and family through difficult times.
PreNDA seeks to accomplish what Texas law has failed to recognize for the past several years: Every human life is intrinsically valuable, that discrimination in the womb is unacceptable, and that killing in the womb is never a solution. Pro-Life Texans are calling for Pro-Life laws that represent their convictions without contradiction, and PreNDA will finally answer this call, reconciling Texas law with basic Pro-Life principles.