Tuesday evening, the Texas Senate proved again that the upper chamber had followed through on Pro-Life promises by finalizing two Pro-Life reforms to current Texas laws, HB 3994 and HB 3074.
State Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) carried HB 3994 in the Senate after Representative Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) had successfully sponsored and passed the measure in the House on May 15th. HB 3994 faces one last routine procedural step in the House before going to Governor Abbott’s desk for his signature. The Senate also approved HB 3074 by Representative Drew Springer (R-Gainesville), who revised his bill so that Texas Right to Life could support this important measure.
Offering Pro-Life reform to the Texas insurance market, SB 575 by Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), passed by a vote of 21-10 in the State Senate more than two weeks ago. SB 575 was then held hostage by the Chair of the House Committee on State Affairs, Representative Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), who demanded that the bill be substantially weakened before moving the bill out of his committee.
After Pro-Life Texans flooded capitol offices with constituents’ calls and emails, SB 575 was moved to the House calendar for the final day of debate; efforts by staunch Pro-Life legislators to advance SB 575 and secure the will of the people were commendable but predictably squelched by leadership. Repeatedly, each move and motion to begin floor debate and passage on SB 575 was denied. SB 575 died due to both the stall tactics of Democrat House members and House Leadership’s failure to prioritize substantive Pro-Life measures.
Texas Right to Life is thankful for the Pro-Life leadership and steadfast resolve of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Senator Charles Perry, Senator Larry Taylor, and all the senators who supported the insurance reform, who voted to enact protections for pregnant teens, and who favored the restriction of starvation and dehydration of Texas patients.
Those in the Texas House who fought valiantly to stand for the lives of preborn Texans are to be commended and share Texas Right to Life’s dismay that their Pro-Life values and those of their constituents were stifled by the ruling class. While many members of the Texas House are stalwart defenders of Life, Representative Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), who chairs the Republican caucus, singlehandedly moved mountains to forge consensus on HB 3994 and HB 3074. Along with the Pro-Life Whip, Representative Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), Representative Parker aggressively pursued every path possible Tuesday for SB 575 to pass, but to no avail.
The last legislative matter is the budget bill that encompasses the allocation of state and federal dollars in Texas. During the House discussion and debate of the budget bill, HB 1, four Pro-Life provisions were successfully added. The first amendment clarifies that abortion providers and their affiliates are not eligible to teach sex education classes or write sex education curriculum. The second amendment required those teaching sex education to follow a stronger curriculum to keep the abortion industry’s messaging out of Texas public schools, and a third amendment prohibited taxpayer funding of biomedical research that destroys human embryos. Lastly, funding for the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program was increased. Three of these four amendments are incorporated in the final version of HB 1, but the amendment relating to embryonic stem cell research was stricken. Also, the Senate kept their forceful language prohibiting the abortion industry from receiving public funds through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening program.
One major Pro-Life bill, HB 3994, passed during this 84th Session of the Texas Legislature to protect pregnant teens from the predatory abortion industry. HB 3074 also passed and clarifies that artificially administered nutrition and hydration cannot be withdrawn from hospitalized patients except in rare circumstances, marking a step forward in reforming the Texas Advance Directives Law. And the state’s budget bill, HB 1, includes some new Pro-Life protections.
Texas Right to Life is grateful for the major victory and the two steps forward. We appreciate the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick in prioritizing Life issues. Had the House prioritized principles over politics, this 84th Session of the Texas Legislature could have lifted Texas back to the top ten Pro-Life states in the United States, particularly with the overwhelming Pro-Life majorities in both the State House and in the State Senate. But due to some in House leadership, Texas will again rank behind 9 other states as far as most protective of Life. In most realms, a C+ grade is acceptable, but what does a C+ on Life issues mean for the baby in the realm of the womb?